Amazon is testing a new biometric payment system that will let Whole Foods shoppers pay for their shopping simply by waving their hand in front of a scanner, reports the New York Post. The system is code-named “Orville” and is reportedly being tested on employees at Amazon’s New York offices. The tests involve allowing employees to buy snacks from modified vending machines with hand scanners installed on them.
The end game, however, is to successfully transition the tech from vending machines to the registers in a Whole Foods store. If Amazon does so, customers could literally leave all their payment cards and even their phones at home yet still purchase all the items they want by scanning their hand.
Amazon is reportedly investing in the hand biometric payment system because it thinks people will find such a biometric payment system less creepy than facial recognition systems. Furthermore, Amazon’s hand biometric payment system doesn’t actually require the customer to place their hand against a scanner. They can simply wave their hand over it and the scanner will use computer vision and depth geometry to identify the customer and charge their purchase to their card on file.
The hand biometric payment system is also reportedly much faster than paying with a traditional credit or debit card. Amazon’s hand biometric payment system can process the payment in around 300 milliseconds. Debit and credit cards take up to four seconds to do so.
Right now the payment system is accurate to within one ten-thousandth of 1%, but Amazon wants to improve that to a millionth of 1% ahead of its launch. That launch, Amazon hopes, will roll out to select Whole Foods stores by the beginning of 2020 and then expand to all U.S. locations after Amazon sees how customers and employees take to it.