RBC using Microsoft’s Surface 2.0 to better educate customers

Lost in the mix of a bajillion other gadgets being debuted at CES 2011 was the release of Microsoft’s newest iteration of their Surface touch-screen computer.

The new Surface has a bigger touch-screen, more processing power, and can detect objects to with which to interact without using a camera. It can respond to up to 50 fingers touching it at the same time, allowing for very collaborative activities.

One company that has seen the value of this technology is the Royal Bank of Canada. RBC is completely redesigning many of their branches, and as The Next Web reports, they have found a use for Surface 2.0 as a non-threatening teaching tool to show customers how their savings plans can benefit them.

We had a chance to speak with RBC’s Alan Depencier, VP of Marketing Services & Transformation earlier today. He told us that in the last few months, RBC has rolled out the new Surface kiosks in two new retail locations that include an interactive environment called Discovery Zone. Alan said that RBC is excited about the new Microsoft Surface due to its smaller size and pixel sense technology. A technology that enables RBC to mail-out flyers with unique codes that are recognized by infrared sensors on Surface.

RBC’s new concept stores in Halifax and Burlington provide a less intimidating experience for customers Alan mentioned. And as he points out, RBC has found that giving customers a way to learn about their financial goals through interactive applications, is a great way to ease customers into initiating conversations about complicated financial topics.

Alan also tells us that by using RBC’s animated Coin application, it gives customers a better idea of the benefits of a tax free savings account. The Coin app demonstrates how much customers would save by dropping virtual coins into a pseudo-savings account on the screen.

When the first incarnation of surface rolled out in 2007, I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen — even though I couldn’t see much use for it beyond Dungeons and Dragons and the price (around $13,000) made it so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe could afford it. Surface 2.0, however, looks like it might be more practical, especially now that the price is a more reasonable $7,600 for the unit. And I can definitely see where RBC is coming from in their implementation of Surface. A fun, animated walkthrough of how different accounts work seems like a better way to explain complicated financial matters than a suit in an office.