Gesture tech for ATM security not viable yet

Technology remains nascent and will need to "prove itself" to financial institutions its effectiveness as an authentication tool over more mature methods such as biometrics, say observers.

The use of gesture-based technology as a form of security authentication for ATM (automated teller machines) transactions is unlikely to happen anytime soon given it is still in its infancy and its prohibitive costs would result in low industry support, state industry watchers.

Anand S, technical insights research director for ICT practice at Frost & Sullivan, said technology involving a person's physical gestures is still considered to be in a nascent stage. It typically relies on high-definition cameras and sensors to detect hand and finger movements, and is regarded as a next-generation user interface which would facilitate more interactive yet intuitive connectivity with machines, he said.

As such, gesture technology would not be considered to play a crucial role as an additional layer to secure ATM-based transactions, Anand said.

Since Microsoft introduced gesture-based technology via Kinect for its games console Xbox 360, the healthcare industry has been one of the few exploring ways to utilize it. So far, such tech is limited to assisting patients perform daily exercises and recreational activities, he added.

Ian Tan, marketing manager of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, added that a trial implementation of Kinect in hospitals has enabled surgeons to flip through medical images on a screen without removing their sterile gloves or having to touch the screen.

Integration with biometrics possible outcome
Heidi Shey, security and risk researcher at Forrester Research, agreed with Pereira that the technology is still in its early stages of development. To gain the support of banks, it would need to "prove itself before any deals are signed" as these institutions will often be cautions in what IT they deploy, particular for customer-facing operations, she added.

"Technology needs to help, not hinder, customer interactions," Shey said. "Unless there is a really compelling reason for banks to invest in [gesture technology], such as [making it a] regulatory requirement or a carefully calculated marketing and branding effort, [investing in this new technology] won't be a priority."

Anand also pointed out that banks and financial institutions will need to invest massively in high-quality cameras and for sensors to be embedded within existing ATMs to provision for gesture-sensing processes to be deployed. The high costs, she said, would be a key obstacle for these organizations to adopt motion recognition tech.

On the consumers' end, the Frost & Sullivan analyst said users tend to be more discreet when interacting with ATMs, such as keying their pass codes and selecting bank services without allowing others to view their actions.

As such, people may perceive the "waving of their hands, fingers and eyebrows" openly while interacting with ATMs as against standard behavior, Anand surmised.

Tan said banks would also need to understand the optimal conditions for gesture controls in order to prevent the sensors from picking up actions from other people in the queue.

Both Anand and Shey did note that there is value in integrating gesture technology with existing authentication methods such as biometrics.

Anand said motion sensor technology can be integrated with biometrics to authenticate users and consequently offer a greater user experience when interacting with ATMs. This would represent a value-added service rather positioning gesture as an added layer of security though, he stated.

Shey added that even if gesture-based services were deployed, it would not take over the authentication process from more mature technologies such as biometrics, which include facial recognition, voice, fingerprint, or palm scanning.