British researchers have developed the microwave bank
- an oven connected to the Internet and with a screen in its door.
As well as combining TV dinners with TV programmes,
the machine will enable the user to order goods or make financial transactions via the Net.
Stephen Emmott of NCR, which makes hole-in-the wall cash dispensers, said:
"You could watch Delia Smith and follow her instructions if you wanted.
You can bake your cake, eat it and replace the ingredients you've used."
The microwave bank, unveiled in London yesterday,
will respond to instructions using voice recognition software.
For anyone who actually wants to lift a finger,
it will also have a touch-sensitive screen.
The working prototype has a barcode scanner for ordering groceries.
NCR's Knowledge Lab developed the idea to help to ease the pressure on banks,
which can offset the cost of keeping branches open by offering services via the Internet.
Although banks have been encouraging customers to use such services there is resistance to change.
"Only 30 per cent of homes have personal computers," Dr Emmott said.
"But our research has shown that consumers who refuse to use a PC
take to the microwave bank like a duck to water."
Ease of use would be the key to the machine's success.
"People are familiar with the microwave - they are comfortable with it," he said.
A production version would cost between £600 and £700 and could be on sale within two years.
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