Amazon One lets you pay with your palm

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Amazon is unveiling its own palm recognition technology today that will be used initially to turn your hand into a personal credit card inside the company’s physical retail stores. Amazon One uses the palm of your hand to identify you, using a combination of surface-area details like lines and ridges, alongside vein patterns to create a “palm signature.”

At first, this palm signature will be used in Amazon’s own Go stores in Seattle, and the company also plans to add Amazon One to other Amazon stores in the coming months. Amazon One usage will eventually extend beyond just palm-based payments. “We believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores, so we also plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums, and office buildings so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience in more places,” says Dilip Kumar, vice president of Amazon’s physical retail business.

While many companies have experimented with palm recognition biometrics over the years, Amazon’s strong retail presence could certainly help make palm scanning a reality. Amazon hasn’t confirmed if any other retailers, venues, or businesses will make use of Amazon One, but the company says it’s “in active discussions with several potential customers.”

Amazon says it picked palm recognition over other technologies like face recognition because of some privacy benefits. “One reason was that palm recognition is considered more private than some biometric alternatives because you can’t determine a person’s identity by looking at an image of their palm,” explains Kumar. “It also requires someone to make an intentional gesture by holding their palm over the device to use.”

Amazon One reader.

Amazon One will use image scanning hardware that includes proprietary computer vision algorithms to capture and encrypt a palm image. You won’t even need an Amazon account to use the service, just a phone number and a credit card. Amazon One users will also be able to delete their biometric data from the company’s online portal if they no longer want to use the service.

Amazon has been working on this service for years, having applied to patent palm recognition technology at the end of 2019. Amazon One will appear initially in two Seattle-based stores, but the company has clear ambitions to bring this to a lot more locations beyond just its own stores.

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