With just the wave of a hand, Amazon is reportedly aiming to speed up checkout at Whole Foods stores.
Amazon is testing a new system that lets customers pay for items by waving their hands in front of a scanner, according to the New York Post. The concept is different from the fingerprint scanners found in smartphones and doesn’t require customers to actually touch anything.
The Post reports that Amazon is testing the project, codenamed Orville, in vending machines at its New York offices, where the company has installed hand scanners. The goal, according to the report, is to roll out the payment system to a handful of Whole Foods stores early next year.
Under the new system, Amazon Prime members would have the option to scan their hands and link them to a credit card. The Post reports that the system is accurate within one ten-thousandth of 1 percent, but Amazon engineers are shooting for accuracy of a millionth of 1 percent.
The Post reports that the new system could process a transaction in as fast as 300 milliseconds, versus 3 or 4 seconds for a traditional debit card transaction. It uses computer vision and depth geometry to process and identify shape and size of the hand before charging the linked card on file.
An Amazon spokesperson told GeekWire “we don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Amazon tried to speed up how people pay for items in stores. The tech giant managed to make the futuristic Amazon Go technology, where customers grab their goods and walk out of the store without going through a checkout line or scanning items, into reality. Amazon has opened or announced 17 Go stores so far.
The use of biometric data, specifically facial recognition technology, by U.S. tech giants has become a controversial topic. Stephanie Hare, an independent researcher who specializes in technology ethics, told the Post it appears that Amazon decided customers would be more likely to accept a hand-waving system than a payment solution based on facial recognition.
Though it hasn’t become mainstream, palm-scanning is not exactly a new technology. Consumer advocates were warning about how the use of biometric data like hand-scanning could put people in danger of identity theft years ago. And it has been used in a variety of areas, from school lunch rooms to doctors offices.