Wave and pay: Amazon to expand use of hand recognition payment system 

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 20, 2020 Published on January 20, 2020

Amazon   -  AFP

Touch-free technology allows buyers to check out items without cards or traditional biometric scanners

Amazon is working on checkout terminals where customers can ‘wave and pay’, for brick-and-mortar stores other than Whole Foods Market, which it owns, the Wall Street Journal reported.

 It will offer custom checkout counters enabled by its patented hand-recognition technology to various food stores and coffee shops, the report said. 

The tech giant had first tested the system at its New York offices, where employees used the technology at a handful of vending machines to purchase items such as sodas, chips, granola bars and phone chargers, according to sources quoted by a New York Post report. 

Patent application

Amazon then announced its plan to roll out the system to Whole Foods Market and filed to patent the technology for the same, news website Recode had first reported. The idea was to speed up the long queues at the payment counter of the supermarket. 

How does hand-recognition work?

The idea is similar to any ordinary biometric scanner such as the fingerprint recognition system in smartphones. However, what differentiates Amazon’s technology from a normal biometric scanner is that a customer can simply wave his/her hand in front of the scanner — without actually touching it — to pay. The technology will map out every curve, line and hand gesture of the customer and store the data, linking it to its payment information. 

In quick time

The payment is carried out in less than 300 milliseconds with an accuracy of one ten-thousandth of 1 per cent, the New York Post reported. Amazon aims to improve this to one-millionth of 1 per cent.

To begin with, only people with Amazon Prime accounts were to be able to use it, as their payment data were already stored by Amazon. The e-commerce giant then expanded the system so that the technology first obtained data by scanning old-school plastic cards from consumers, and then linked them to their hands. Post that, customers could simply wave and make payments, sans phones or cards. 

According to tech news website Engadget, Amazon is currently working on test transactions with Visa and is also in talks with Mastercard.

Published on January 20, 2020
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