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Amazon Files Patent For Pay By Selfie or Wink for Checkout

Posted in Technology

Amazon is working on using selfies, winks and even smiles to authorize orders.

The Seattle-based e-commerce company recently filed a patent application for a process that would allow shoppers to make a purchase by taking a photo and/or video of themselves rather than keying in their account password. The application is related to a separate patent Amazon holds for a technology that allows a device to authenticate a user via a photo or video, but not necessarily to complete a transaction.

Amazon patented one-click purchasing buying. Now it wants a patent for pay-by-selfie.

amazon pay by selfie

It proposes the use of a regular camera to capture the user’s face. To verify that the camera isn’t just scanning a photo, the system will ask for either a wink, nod, smile or a combination of the three.

This kind of live image recognition, which authenticates not just a single image but a series of facial gestures, offers far more security than traditional image recognition methods. It can’t be faked with photos held up to the camera and the gestures provide additional data.

amazon pay by selfie

Going beyond just cameras, the patent also explores how different sensors can extend the technology. Infrared(IR) lights which could project equally sized dots can be used for 3D-mapping. Alternatively, depth sensors maybe used. Thermal sensors can also verify the physical person through body heat detection.

While depth sensors and IR lights are not common features in smartphones, Amazon’s line of devices can potentially play the first host for an online shopping-centric device. The patent also proposes that the verification process maybe done on the cloud so as to create ‘a new data point for business intelligence and fraud detection.’

The patent points out that e-commerce is only the beginning—the same technology maybe used in banking and even just logging into social media accounts.

Under the scenario in the patent application, a phone or computer “can prompt the user to perform certain actions, motions, or gestures, such as to smile, blink, or tilt his or her head.” This would be done to prove that the shopper is who he or she says, rather than an imposter simply holding up a photo of the shopper.

While this may sound like a joke today, it seems likely that safer and simpler replacements for the account password will eventually be commonplace. Others are working on it. A year ago, Alibaba chairman Jack Ma demonstrated what sounds like a similar technology, and MasterCard is rolling out a photo-based payment technology, too.

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