Amazon Announces Launch Of Palm Scanner Launched ‘Secure’ Payments

A simple wave of the hand can now be used for making payment, according to an announcement by Amazon about its new payment system targeted for real-world shops.

The new payment system is called Amazon One and it uses a scanner that cans and registers an image of the user’s palm. That is used later on for the users to pay by simply hovering their hand in mid-air “for about a second or so”, the company said.

A trial for the product will be made by the company at two of its physical stores in Seattle.

The company is “in active discussions with several potential customers” about launching the product out to other shops in the future, the company also said.

“In most retail environments, Amazon One could become an alternate payment or loyalty card option with a device at the checkout counter next to a traditional point of sale system,” Amazon said.

The use of the system can also be made for “entering a location like a stadium” or to allow an employee to scan oneself instead of using an ID card while joining work, Amazon also said.

“We believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores,” it added.

Use of palm scanners as a technology is not entirely new and some commercially available solutions are already in the market.

“Palm-based identification is based on capturing the vein patterns of the palm,” explains Dr Basel Halak of the Electronics and Computer Science School at the University of Southampton. “These patterns are different for each finger and for each person, and as they are hidden underneath the skin’s surface, forgery is extremely difficult.”

While having a level of security which is almost the same as that of a fingerprint scan, the palm scanner is much more practical because it be used at a distance of a few inches, Dr Halak said.

“In comparison with other form of identifiers such as physical devices, this form of biometric authentication is based on physical characteristics that stay constant throughout one’s lifetime and are more difficult to fake, change or steal,” he said.

The exact working of its new version of the palm scanner has not been detailed by Amazon as the company only said that the new system will use “custom-built algorithms and hardware” and scan “distinct features on and below the surface” of the hand.

Palm scanner is “more private” than some other options which prompted the company to chose palm recognition technology, Amazon said.

“You can’t determine a person’s identity by looking at an image of their palm,” it said, possibly a reference to the controversy surrounding facial recognition.

After civil rights advocates raised concerns about the potential racial bias from its facial recognition technology usage by the police in the US, Amazon has paused the use of its Recognition facial recognition software. 

The “intentional gesture” of holding a palm over a sensor, and the contactless nature, “which we think customers will appreciate, especially in current times”, wee the other reason of choosing this palm scanning technology, Amazon said.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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