Amazon Trials Hand Recognition Payment Method At Whole Foods

Amazon is testing a new payment system that uses handprints for checkout instead of a card or an app, The New York Post reported on Tuesday (Sept. 3).

Codenamed “Orville,” the technology will scan human hands to ring up purchases. Sources told the NYP that the e-commerce giant is using its New York employees as test subjects by installing the system on a handful of vending machines selling chips, sodas and phone chargers in its offices.

Amazon plans to roll out the new tech at its Whole Foods supermarket chain in the coming months, the article said.

Unlike other biometric systems that require you to touch the surface of a scanner, Amazon’s technology uses computer vision and depth geometry to identify the size and shape of a person’s hand before charging the credit card on file. Shoppers won’t even have to bring their phones. 

The technology will roll out to a handful of Whole Foods stores by the beginning of next year, the NYP said.

The scanner is accurate to within one ten-thousandth of 1 percent, but Amazon engineers hope to achieve an accuracy of within a millionth of 1 percent, the newspaper reported.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment, saying “we don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

Amazon is also looking into voice payment through digital assistants. Patrick Gauthier, vice president of Amazon Pay, said voice technology will transform the payments industry in the same way mobile phones did. 

He said the technology is a “new era in commerce. It is akin to what happened with mobile maybe 10 years ago or even with eCommerce 20 years ago.”

As artificial intelligence becomes more and more ubiquitous, Gauthier says, the move toward shopping by voice is inevitable. He added that an Amazon Pay survey found that about 40 percent of people would use voice assistants over the course of the next three years.

“The potential is phenomenal,” Gauthier said. “Just like mobile 10 years ago, there is a lot we need to learn.”