Amazon Is Looking to Take Payments through Hand Scans

Will this new way catch on with their customers?
Fabienne Lang

Checkouts at some of Amazon's physical stores may end up being one of speediest ones yet. The massive e-commerce company is supposedly working on a system that scans hands at checkout tills as a way to identify the buyer and directly debit money from their credit card. 

The New York Post shared the news, which has yet to be fully confirmed by Amazon. According to the New York Post, the retail company is testing out scanners with its employees in its New York office, scanning their hands at vending machines as a form of payment. 


What is Amazon's goal?

The first plan of action is for Amazon to apparently use these hand scanners at their Whole Foods supermarket chain, as early as next year. 

It'll be a speedy checkout as well, as "Amazon's new technology can process the charge in less than 300 milliseconds," reported the New York Post

A regular transaction usually takes up to three or four seconds. So it'll be a faster system if it does indeed roll out. The plan is for Amazon Prime subscribers to be able to use the scanner. 

The name of the system? Orville.

For an iPhone's fingerprint scanner to unlock your phone, you have to press your finger on the button physically, and you won't have to plug in your password in the scanning process.

Amazon's technology, on the other hand, uses computer vision and depth geometry in order to process. Then, it identifies the hands' sizes as they hover over the sensors. Amazon is going forward with their innovation, as we have previously seen through their 'Go' convenience stores.

In these stores, there are no human assistants, only a turnstile where you use your Amazon phone app to clear your purchase as you walk out. Cameras and weight sensors in the store measure and track what you've lifted off the shelves, and directly debit it from your linked account. 

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With their new Orville system, phones wouldn't even be required in order to make any purchases. All you need is your hand.

More scanning, more spending?

This is a little worrying, however, because it could lead to people buying more products. Typically, when a tangible exchange, such as cash, doesn't occur, people are incentivized to spend more — sometimes on products that they don't even need — a good sign for the store, but not the customer's bank account. 

Amazon Is Looking to Take Payments through Hand Scans
Source: FamZoo Staff/Flickr

The next question will be that of privacy concerns. When biometric data is stored, issues of what happens to that data arise. We'll just have to wait and see what Amazon rolls out, and read their terms and conditions carefully.

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