Biometrics have grown significantly in recent years when it comes to authentication; fingerprint scanners, facial recognition and even hand ID are commonly used to unlock smartphones and even digital wallets. Amazon is taking this trend one step further with its newest venture: bringing touchless hand-scanning payment methods to Whole Foods.
According to the New York Post, Amazon has been testing a scanner that can identify a customer by their hand, connect to their Amazon Prime account, and pay for their order in the matter of milliseconds. Because the scanner will be using depth sensing and computer vision technology, customers will not need to touch a screen or scan a card to pay for their purchases.
Amazon’s move comes as no surprise as the company has introduced several different initiatives that make it easier for their customers to buy their products. Amazon’s Dash Buttons made buying common household products as easy as a press of a button. Of note, the physical buttons are now discontinued but have been replaced by virtual buttons tied to a user’s Amazon account. Amazon Alexa products also allow customers to shop from the convenience of their home. Finally, Amazon Go stores let customers shop without the need to check out; all items are charged to their Amazon account.
This system, however, differs from Amazon’s previous initiative as customers can check out without the assistance of an Amazon product (a Dash Button or Alexa) or their phone. Sources within the company have told the New York Post that the system is currently accurate within one ten-thousandth or 1%, but that a millionth of 1% accuracy is the pre-launch goal.
How Amazon handles privacy of biometric data is yet to be seen. Currently, Amazon has been testing this system on their New York office employees but hope to roll this out to Whole Foods starting next year.