Amazon Wants Your Hand

By Brenden Bechamps
Tech & Innovation Writer

Experts warn against rushing into Amazon’s new technological vanture; it may take more time to prevent any identity/data thefts (Photo courtesy of New York Times)

Imagine a world where somebody can simply walk into a store, pick up what they need and leave without having to wait in a checkout line, take out their wallet, and pay the cashier. It sounds like something from a science fiction movie, but Amazon stores are doing it today.

Whole Foods, acquired by Amazon two years ago, is now starting to implement biometrics in their stores in New York City, disrupting the whole idea of a checkout line. By using handprint identification, the store can charge a person’s credit card account without the customer having to take out their card. Biometrics will reduce the amount of time it takes for customers to check out at the store. Amazon also believes that introducing biometrics to the stores will increase the amount of purchases customers make because people tend to spend more money when they do not have to pay with something tangible like cash.

This is not the first time Amazon has experimented innovative ways to reduce the amount of time it takes for customers to shop. Last year, Amazon opened a chain of “Go” convenience stores that digitally track what customers buy which eliminates the need for a register in the store. Amazon is able to do this by making customers check into the store with their phones and while they shop Amazon’s computer vision in the store tracks what customers pick up and put into their bags. When the customers leave the store, they are charged for their purchase without even having to go into a checkout line. Now, with the new release of biometrics to charge a customer for their purchase it eliminates the need for customers to even bring their phones to the stores.

Of course, with anything that sounds this good, there is a catch. Experts warn against customers giving their biometric information to retailers out of the fear of the company getting hacked. They believe it could take six or more years for a consumer to gather all of their information back from the hackers. Stephanie Hare, an independent technology ethics researcher states that, “We have a couple of nation states that are really good at stealing data right now.” She believes that the risks involved with providing companies such as Amazon with personal biometric information is not worth the reward that this innovation has to offer.

Though there are serious risks involved, the usage of biometrics in Amazon stores will make customers’ shopping experiences more efficient and increase revenue for the company as they predict more in store purchases.

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