Amazon testing hand-scanning payment system for its Whole Foods stores

The technology being employed is computer vision and depth geometry to scan the hands of the shoppers.


Amazon is trying out yet another system which focusses on biometrics. This time it is not facial recognition being used for questionable purposes, but a way to make payments by scanning users's hands.

Codenamed 'Orville', this system scans a shoppers hands inside a grocery store for checking out. So instead of paying by cash or credit or debit cards at the checkout counter, you will simply need to wave your hand for the payment to process.

Amazon is currently testing this feature at its New York office with Amazon employees being used as test subjects. The idea is to eventually rollout this payment system at its Whole Foods outlets. Whole Foods is a high end brick and mortar grocery store that was bought out by Amazon for $13.7 bn in mid-2017.

Amazon testing hand-scanning payment system for its Whole Foods stores

A Whole Foods Market is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files

According to the report in New York Post, Orville lets Amazon Prime customers wave their hands at the checkout area and the money is deducted from the customer's debit or credit card, whichever is synced with the Prime account. Unlike physical fingerprint scanners, in the case of Orville, you don't have to touch anything. The technology being employed is computer vision and depth geometry to scan the hands of the shoppers.

"It’s accurate to within one ten-thousandth of 1 percent, but Amazon engineers are scrambling to improve it to a millionth of 1 percent ahead of its launch," according to a source who spoke to the paper.

Amazon already has a unique way of selling items at its physical Amazon Go stores, where there are no dedicated check out counters. Shoppers simply scan their phones to make the payments. According to CNET, following a government order in some states, it has started accepting cash at the Amazon Go stores, as a cashless way of paying could be discriminating against those from the lower income group who may not have a bank account.

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