More so than most, Amazon has every reason to try and make the check out process as seamless as possible. After all, sometimes all a consumer needs is the slightest of hurdles before getting cold feet and reconsidering a purchase. That being the case, it might not be all that surprising to learn that the company that pioneered one-click purchasing has come up with a way for consumers to complete the checkout process by taking a selfie.
Yes, the selfie age is upon us and Amazon is joining the party with a decidedly commerce-oriented twist. According to a recent patent filing, the online retail giant describes an implementation of facial recognition software that would enable shoppers to use their own face in place of a password when finalizing a purchase. In other words, think of it as Touch ID but for your face instead of your finger.
As for why such a technology might be useful, Amazon notes in its patent filing that traditional passwords can easily be stolen or discovered by third parties. Not only that, entering in a sufficiently strong password isn’t always convenient or user friendly when using a small device like a smartphone.
Somewhat comically, Amazon even makes a point of noting that entering in a password can sometimes require a user to “turn away from friends or co-workers” as to keep the password private, a scenario “which can be awkward or embarrassing in many situations.”
Now one of the more interesting aspects of Amazon’s patent is that it came up with a way to prevent crafty individuals from holding up a photo of a person’s face to authorize a purchase.
Amazon’s patent explains the underlying problem thusly:
The facial recognition process can often be spoofed by holding a picture of the user in front of the camera, as the resulting two-dimensional image can look substantially the same whether taken of the user or a picture of the user.
To combat this, Amazon came up with an interesting solution. The patent details a process by which a mobile device can prompt a user to perform a certain action, such as smiling or blinking an eye, to not only authenticate the identity of the user, but to also ensure that the image being analyzed is from a real live person, not a photo.
Notably, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of a company expressing interesting in using selfies to authenticate a purchase. As we covered this past July, MasterCard is also working on a small pilot program wherein consumers can confirm a purchase by taking a selfie to authenticate their identity.