Amazon Foods, aka Whole Foods Market, is launching a new point-of-sale system that involves scanning the physical hands of customers in order to collect payment from them.
Reminiscent of the mark of the beast spoken about in the Bible, this new flesh-and-blood identification technology will reportedly use vision and depth geometry biometrics to process transactions based on the shapes and sizes of customers’ hands.
Once a customer’s hand is linked up to his or her credit card on file, he or she will be able to walk right out of Whole Foods with a cart full of groceries without ever having to handle cash or cards – making the transaction entirely cashless.
Code-named “Orville,” the system will also link up to customers’ Amazon Prime accounts, allowing them to simply scan their hands and have all of their Prime information immediately link up to their payment information for a seamless purchasing experience.
According to internal sources, the technology is currently accurate to within one ten-thousandth of 1 percent. But Amazon engineers are working feverishly to improve this accuracy to one millionth of 1 percent to avoid potential identity fraud.
If everything goes as planned, Whole Foods plans to install the hand-swipe system within a handful of its stores by the beginning of next year. And eventually, the technology will be unveiled at all Whole Foods locations – presumably with opposition from Whole Foods employees, which are already having trouble keeping up with Amazon’s other technological changes.
“Retailers have always been interested in faster checkout,” stated Majd Maksad, founder and CEO of Status Money, a personal finance website, as quoted by the New York Post.
“You only have to walk into Whole Foods to see the massive lines of people waiting to check out. It’s a massive friction point,” he added.
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Though an Amazon spokesperson refused to comment on the technology, likening it to “rumors or speculation,” insiders say it’s definitely in the works.
According to one person familiar with the project, Amazon’s hand-swipe technology is able to process a payment in less than 300 milliseconds, while it currently takes upwards of three or four seconds to process a payment via credit card.
The goal is to not only increase the flow of customers through the Whole Foods checkout line, but also to get Whole Foods customers to spend more money while shopping.
“People tend to spend more when they don’t have the experience of touching something tangible like money,” Maksad admits. “The utility of money becomes more ephemeral.”
Amazon has already implemented a similar cashless system at its “Go” chain of convenience stores, where customers check-in upon arrival using their smartphone. They then do their shopping and leave the store without ever having to go through a checkout line at all, as the system tracks everything they put in their cart, and watches them as they leave the store.
It’s a surveillance nightmare, of course, but one that’s sure to be welcomed by tech-lovers everywhere as they laud the arrival of more “progress.”
“Why would you give them that data?” asks Stephanie Hare, an independent researcher who specializes in technology ethics, pointing out the fact that places like communist China are already employing such technology, much to the detriment of public privacy and individual autonomy.
“People don’t understand the risk,” she added. “We have a couple of nation states that are really good at stealing data right now.”
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