Industry Update
Opinion Article 9 October 2020

Will Amazon’s New Palm Recognition Become the Next Popular Biometric Technology?

By Linchi Kwok, Associate Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management

share this article
1 minComments
Kwok

Amazon recently introduced a new biometric payment device, Amazon One, in two of its Go stores in Seattle. Shoppers can now enter and pay at cashier-free Amazon Go stores by scanning their palms.

Advertisements

The company opened its first Amazon Go store in Seattle to the public in January 2018. Currently, Amazon operates 21 Go stores in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, with five temporarily closed.

Unlike a typical grocery store, Amazon Go offers grab-and-go, ready-to-eat snacks, breakfast, and lunch options for shoppers. Shopping at Amazon Go can be as easy as walking in and out of the store. After consumers download the Amazon Go app and link the account with a form of payment, they can:

  • Walk into the store by scanning the Amazon Go app.
  • Grab the items wanted.
  • Walk out of the store.
  • Be charged through the Amazon Go app.

How Amazon One works

Amazon One works similarly to the Amazon Go app. To sign up, shoppers will need a credit card, a mobile number, and of course, their palm. Then, they can start using their palm as a form of identification (ID) or a form of payment where the device is available.

In Amazon Go stores, for example, shoppers can scan their palm instead of the Amazon Go app as they enter and shop inside. When they finish, they can walk out. A charge will be placed on their Amazon One account.

Amazon One's target market

The coronavirus is primarily transmitted through direct or indirect close contacts with infected COVID-19 patients. Amazon One enables consumers to avoid touching the surfaces that others may have touched earlier. While both Amazon Go and Amazon One embrace the contactless self-service trend, the company sees broader implications for Amazon One devices.

Places with high foot traffic, such as stadiums, restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, and any gated or secured facilities, could benefit from the device. Once installed and connected to the cloud, it can provide the contactless type of service demanded by customers.

Palm recognition vs. other biometric technologies

Compared to palm recognition, facial recognition has been put into use in major airports, shopping malls, and restaurants for a few years. Many of us have been using facial recognition technology to unlock our mobile devices multiple times a day.

Some believe that palm recognition is a less-risky biometric technology because our palm is not as easily observable as our face or ear print. Likewise, people may use their fingerprints, another form of biometric data, more often in legal documents but rarely use their palm for identification purposes.

Technology-wise, palm recognition does not need to solve some of the unique challenges that facial or fingerprint recognition encounter. For instance, not all devices using facial recognition can tell the differences between identical twins. Meanwhile, it is not as easy to recognize a person's fingerprints with a touchless device.

Privacy concerns of biometric technologies

Amazon One will store consumers' palm data in the cloud, and they can choose to remove the data later. That creates a potential risk of exposing consumers' biometric data to hackers. Nevertheless, storing the data in the cloud is probably the only solution because Amazon targets a broad audience who wants to use palm data as an ID or form of payment.

In such cases as Apple's Face ID and biometric terminals in airports, consumers' biometric data are stored locally. It is possible that hackers can still find ways to access the data in a local device or server, but people may feel more secured.

The future of palm technology

Because the unique biometric data associated with a person's palm are not used as widely as face or fingerprints, will people feel more comfortable storing such data in the cloud? After people try palm recognition, how many of them would fall in love with the technology? Will palm recognition become the next preferred biometric technology?

Note: This post was also published on Multibriefs.com; The picture was downloaded from GeekWire.com.

Linchi Kwok

    More from Linchi Kwok
    Contact
    Linchi Kwok
    Associate Professor
    Send email
    Latest News
    Advertisements