Amazon plans to install biometric checkout scanners in Whole Foods

Amazon's new biometric checkout system will let Whole Foods customers get out of line faster than ever.

Having revolutionized the world of e-commerce, Amazon is now ramping up its efforts to conquer the brick-and-mortar retail sector. On Tuesday, the New York Post reported that the corporation is testing a new biometric checkout system called Orville. Instead of paying with credit cards or smartphones, the company’s new transaction process lets customers scan their hand to checkout.

The Seattle-based Big Tech firm hopes to bring its new payment system to Whole Foods supermarkets by next year.

How Does Amazon’s Hand Recognition System Work?

Amazon’s biometric checkout scanners don’t work the same way that fingerprint recognition technology does. Instead of matching ridge or vein patterns, Orville uses computer vision and depth geometry to identify individual consumers’ handprint. Then, an algorithm connects the hand scan to a matching Amazon Prime account to process transactions.

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Presently, Amazon is fine-tuning Orville at its New York offices. The corporation equipped its snack and phone charger vending machines with hand recognition tech.

So far, the e-commerce giant’s developmental process has gone smoothly. The firm’s engineers have gotten the system’s identification-failure rate down to 1/10,000 of one percent. However, the company’s leadership wants its new payment processing equipment to be accurate within 1/1,000,000 of one percent.

Once the corporation gets its new payment solution ready for prime time (pun intended), it plans to deploy it at select Whole Foods stores sometime in 2020. After that, Amazon wants to roll out the system nationwide.

By improving the overall shopping experience, Amazon will give consumers an incentive to patronize its grocery subsidiary exclusively.

Is Hand Recognition Check Out Necessary?

Given that the entire retail sector functions efficiently enough with cash, credit cards, and mobile payments, Amazon’s effort to reinvent the wheel might seem odd. However, the firm is working to optimize the checkout process for a very traditional reason. The corporation believes that using biometric payment systems will make its physical stores more profitable.

First off, hand recognition technology has the potential to make the checkout process much faster. Currently, a payment card transaction takes about three to four seconds to clear. Conversely, Orville can process sales in 300 milliseconds. While that tiny speed increase may not seem significant, it will help Whole Foods service millions of consumers faster in the grand scheme of things.

Another benefit of hand recognition tech is that it makes it easier for customers to part with their cash. Status Money CEO Majd Maksad told the New York Post, “People tend to spend more when they don’t have the experience of touching something tangible like money.” As such, Amazon will likely see better outcomes from its up-selling initiatives by employing a biometric payment system.

The firm probably came to that conclusion after opening its Amazon Go convenience stores. Launched in 2018, the shops allow consumers to check out by presenting a QR code on their smartphones. The Orville system, which doesn’t require consumers to touch their wallet or mobile device, is even more streamlined.

Additionally, the firm likely settled on hand scanning tech rather than a facial recognition solution because it feels less invasive. Nevertheless, the corporation will build up a massive biometric database following Orville’s nationwide deployment. That said, Amazon has gotten really good at papering over its unsavory qualities by offering services of unparalleled convenience.