Repurposing Technology Takes Bold Innovation
Xbox Kinect offers a new way to help children with autism [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9EvAVLND2o]
Commercial banks, it seems, are learning how to engage digital customers by making otherwise mundane things - such as applying for a mortgage - into challenging and even fun events. For instance, they would transform an application into an online quiz that not only makes the process fun. The format provides the bank with extra insights as to who wants that loan.
So I was particularly struck by a recent report that discussed how innovative firms in other industries are thinking about the benefits of playing games. One place you wouldn't expect there to be too many lighthearted moments is the hospital. Many stroke victims who end up in a hospital eventually learn from their doctors that although they've survived, they have a long and arduous road ahead of them. Rehabilitation is long, complicated, and expensive. There is new hope for stroke patients and it comes from the same technology that powers the popular Xbox video game system from Microsoft. By holding a wireless device in their hand, they can now play an opponent in a friendly game of tennis, for example. The key lies with the motion-sensor camera that makes games on Xbox so popular. In fact, a Montreal company has designed a set of exercises that stroke victims can use on an actual Xbox to help with their recoveries. Physical therapists can program a set of activities and exercises that are tailored for each patient. In fact, doctors and physical therapists have said that they see faster results with patients who use the home gaming system.
Doctors everywhere are stretched thin and the cost of quality healthcare is skyrocketing. So a game console in a patient's living room is, I think, a promising part of this exciting trend. What the motion sensor does is confirms for the doctor that the patient is actually following through with the exercise regimen.
Like gamification in the financial services sector, consumers (in this case, patients) are more engaged and find the programs more fun. Nobody ever said applying for a mortgage or working on an intensive program of physical therapy is fun. But if game-like elements can be added to the process through digital means, all the more power to the enterprise in charge of the process.
There's no doubt that technological innovation is revolutionizing some staid and conservative industries. The most effective tools involve ways to keep customers engaged by using devices and gadgets they might already have at their disposal. I think a symbol of the new, digital age that's upon us could be this: a living room in which an 85-year-old who is recovering from a stroke vies for use of the Xbox console with his teenage grandson, who wants to use the system for video games.