Amazon Is Letting Customers Pay With Their Palms
If the invention of hoverboards, smart speakers and robot vacuums didn’t convince you that we were well and truly in the future, then maybe Amazon’s new palm-payment technology will.
Amazon One – not to be confused with the company’s first aeroplane of the same name – is a feature at some of Amazon’s checkout-free stores, which allows customers to enter and pay for items by hovering their hand over a sensor.
Customers typically use a code on their smartphone to operate in the stores, but the new system means they can enter and shop without touching a thing to make the experience faster and more convenient.
In order to use Amazon One, shoppers must insert a credit card into the device and hold a palm above it, facing down, so it can be scanned.
Similar to the way phone fingerprint recognition requires multiple scans, Amazon One will use a camera to take multiple images of the palm in order to capture its fine lines and ridges, as well as some subcutaneous details, such as veins, that aren’t as visible in typical photographs.
Once the system is set up, shoppers can use their palm to open the electric gates at Amazon stores before being automatically charged for anything they buy using the credit card connected to their palm.
The desire for contactless technology has increased in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, though Amazon’s vice president of physical retail and technology Dilip Kumar told CNN Business the company had Amazon One in the works long before the outbreak.
Kumar said Amazon chose palm recognition because it can be accurately matched, and because customers have to make an intentional gesture in order for it to work.
I encourage people to try it, see how they like the experience, and then go from there.
Customers should be able to use the same palm at multiple stores, and Kumar said there may be an option in the future to assign one credit card to each palm.
The idea of giving biometric data to one of the biggest companies in the world may put a few people off using the system, with Amazon previously having come under fire from privacy advocates who are concerned about its facial-recognition software.
Kumar assured the company isn’t storing any information locally on entry scanners at stores, instead saying all palm images are encrypted and stored online.
Amazon One is currently available at two Amazon Go stores in Seattle, at 7th Avenue and Blanchard Street, and in the South Lake Union neighborhood. The company plans to unroll it at other stores in Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago in the coming months.
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