Forward-looking: Thanks to the rise of mobile payment services such as Google Pay, today’s consumers can go shopping with only their handsets in their pockets. But Amazon is reportedly testing a payment system that doesn’t even require a phone—it uses people’s hands.
According to the New York Post, the company is testing new scanners that can identify people’s hands as a way of making store purchases. It hopes to roll out the technology, codenamed ‘Orville,’ to its Whole Foods supermarket chain over the coming months.
Amazon is reportedly testing Orville in its New York offices, where it’s installed on several vending machines selling chips, sodas, and phone chargers.
Unlike most other biometric identification systems that require users to physically touch something, such as a fingerprint reader, Amazon’s system doesn’t require any physical contact with a surface. It uses computer vision and depth geometry to process and identify the shape and size of a hand, at which point it will charge store purchases to a credit card on file.
The system works in a similar way as the 18 Amazon Go stores located around the US, where shoppers can pick up goods and leave, providing they use a phone app to check-in at a turnstile—though the firm did say it will start accepting cash to avoid ‘discrimination’ concerns. Shopping could be even faster with the hand-based method, and you won’t need a wallet or phone as long as you’re a Prime member and don’t mind handing over your biometric data to Amazon.
Orville is currently accurate to within one ten-thousandth of 1 percent, but sources say Amazon engineers want to improve it to a millionth of 1 percent before its launch.
The Post writes that Amazon aims to introduce the technology to Whole Foods stores by the start of next year and expand it to all US locations. When asked about its plans, a company spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”
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