Microsoft Research working on Zero-Effort mobile payment system


Microsoft Research has published an article on a new seamless mobile payment system which utilizes mobile phones and a Kinect sensor, and would mean never having to reach into your pocket for either your wallet or phone.

The system is called Zero-Effort Payment and would uses unique identifiers in the phone’s Bluetooth stack to detect when a user signed up to the service has entered a shop, and a Kinect sensor with the face recognition system to  identify a customer that is waiting to pay.


The system presents cashiers with a choice of four possible faces, displayed on a tablet housed near the till. They simply pick the right face when the customer is ready to pay.

The system then emails the customer with confirmation of the purchase, including a 10-second video, in case they wish to dispute the transaction.

According to Stefan Saroiu, from Microsoft Research, who developed the system alongside colleagues, ZEP would also allow retailers to deliver more personalised customer service, such as offering frequent buyer discounts, without forcing the customers to carry a loyalty card.

Microsoft has been testing the system at one of own cafeterias, as well as on a coffee stand at its TechFest conference.

“Across our two deployments, 274 customers made 705 purchases, and we received no complaints about the wrong customer being billed,” the researchers boasted.

Read more about the potential service in the Microsoft Research Paper here.