Amazon Tests Hand Scanning Payment System for Whole Foods Stores

Amazon is testing a new payment method for its Whole Foods stores, which it has given the code name “Orville.” The new technology consists of a system that allows you to pay by scanning your hand.

According to a New York Post report, employees at Amazon’s New York offices are using the biometric technology to buy items such as sodas, chips, granola bars and phone chargers from specially equipped vending machines.

Users hold their hand over a scanner, which uses computer vision and depth geometry to identify each hand’s shape and size, the report says. The high-tech sensors used in the pilot apparently do not require consumers to physically touch the scanning surface.

Amazon Prime customers will need to go into stores for their hands to be captured and then linked to their accounts before they can use the payment system.

The e-commerce giant did not comment on the New York Post report.

“Orville” is accurate to within one ten-thousandth of 1%, but Amazon engineers are scrambling to improve it to a millionth of 1% ahead of its launch, a source told the newspaper.

The new payment method reportedly can process charges in less than 300 milliseconds, compared to the three to four seconds required for a regular credit card transaction.

Amazon is planning to use “Orville” in several Whole Foods stores on 2020 and then expand the new technology to all locations.

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Hand scanning technology has been used for more than 30 years. The concept was developed and patented in 1985. During the 1996 Summer Olympics the biometric system was used to access to the residential Olympic Village and Walt Disney World has used “finger geometry” for years to expedite entrance to parks, reported Popular Mechanics.

Hand-scanning “is probably a more acceptable solution to many than facial recognition, which has had serious problems with ethnicity,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNews World.

According to the tech publication, privacy concerns constitute the greatest obstacle to widespread adoption of hand-scanning technology because it requires a database linking users’ biometric data to their payment methods.

“There needs to be tighter legislation or industry standards around the handling and acceptable use of biometric data before it can become widespread,” Daniel Elman, research analyst at Nucleus Research, told TechNews World.