Amazon hand-recognition system lets customers pay just by waving

Anthony Cuthbertson
Amazon's 'Orville' biometric system links a customer's credit card to their hand: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Amazon is said to be developing a new payment system that allows customers to pay simply by waving their hand.

The online retail giant is testing scanners that use biometric technology to identify people by the shape and size of their hands, with the hope of rolling them out in its Whole Foods stores later this year.

Sensors are already being tested by Amazon workers on vending machines in the firm's New York offices, according to the New York Post.

The so-called Orville system is different to other biometric scanners currently used on smartphones, which use in-built fingerprint scanners to confirm payments.

Using computer vision, Amazon's technology is able to recognise a hand without users having to physically touch the scanner. It is currently able to do this with an accuracy of one ten-thousandth of 1 per cent, though Amazon hopes to improve this to one-millionth of one per cent.

By linking the biometric data to a person's credit or debit card, customers will be able to pass seamlessly through checkout payments, helping to cut supermarket queues.

Only people with Amazon Prime accounts will be able to use it to begin with, as their payment data is already stored by Amazon.

Amazon wants to transform in-store payments (Getty Images)

Amazon does not comment on rumours about unreleased products, though it is likely to first introduce the new payment system in selected US stores before a wider roll out..

Amazon already has experience with high-tech retail stores, having opened its Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle, Washington, in 2016.

The trillion-dollar company claims Amazon Go uses "the world's most advanced shopping technology" to completely eliminate the need for a checkout or cashiers.

Customers only need to login to their Amazon accounts on their smartphones when entering the store, before a series of cameras and sensors automatically recognise which items they put in their bag or basket. When they walk out it is automatically charged to their credit cards.

Introducing the new hand gesture technology to Amazon Go stores would technically mean that customers would not even need to bring their phone with them when shopping, though there is no indication that Amazon plans to introduce it beyond Whole Foods.

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