Whole Foods will soon let customers pay for groceries with palm scan

 Whole Foods will soon let customers pay for groceries with palm scan

Whole Foods is getting into palm reading, and yes — the idea is to separate you from your money as quickly as possible.

The upscale grocer said Wednesday that its parent company Amazon’s palm-scanning technology for accepting customer payments in checkout lines will soon debut at a supermarket in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The rollout confirms an exclusive report by The Post in September 2019, which first revealed that Amazon was planning to roll out the controversial technology. It has since rolled out to about a dozen of the high-tech Amazon Go convenience stores.

The system uses Amazon One technology, which employs high-tech imaging and algorithms to create and detect a “unique palm signature” based on the ridges, lines and veins in each person’s hand as they place their palm over a scanning device.

The first time shoppers use the scanner, they must insert a credit card to link it with their palm print. After that, they can pay simply by holding their hand over the scanner.

Its high-tech sensors don’t require users to touch the scanning surface, like Apple’s fingerprint technology does.

Instead, palm-reading tech uses computer vision and depth geometry to process and identify the shape and size of each hand they scan before charging a credit card on file.

Amazon One will debut at a Whole Foods in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, with many rollouts at other locations planned for the future.
Amazon One will debut at a Whole Foods in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, with many rollouts at other locations planned for the future.
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The company said that the palm-scanning tech will be offered as just one of many payment options at participating Whole Foods Stores and that it won’t impact store employees’ job responsibilities.

“At Whole Foods Market, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the shopping experience for our customers,” said Arun Rajan, senior vice president of technology and chief technology officer at Whole Foods Market.

Palm images used by Amazon One are encrypted and stored in a “highly secure” cloud, and customers can request to have their palm data deleted.

Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.4 billion in June 2017. At the time of The Post’s 2019 report, an Amazon spokesperson refused to answer questions about the technology, then code-named “Project Orville.”

While a regular card transaction typically takes between three and four seconds, Amazon’s technology can process the charge in less than 300 milliseconds, a person familiar with the project said.

In addition to speeding up checkout lines, Amazon appears generally intent on reducing friction at the checkout counter to encourage customers to spend more money, experts say.

As reported by The Post, employees at Amazon’s New York offices served as guinea pigs for the biometric technology, using it at a handful of vending machines to buy such items as sodas, chips, granola bars and phone chargers.

The company claims palm-scanning tech is more private than other biometric alternatives, such as facial recognition.

Amazon One builds on the “Just Walk Out” technology that Amazon uses in its Go stores, which detects the items shoppers pick up and charges them once they leave — without the need for a checkout line

Amazon is also planning to expand the cashier-less technology to Whole Foods, as reported by The Post.

Meanwhile, the tech could be good for its bottom line. The online behemoth aims to sell its palm-scanning tech to other companies like retailers, stadiums and office buildings.

Amazon One scanner
The scanner uses high-tech imaging and algorithms to create and detect a unique palm signature which is then encrypted and stored in a secured cloud.
Amazon

Last September, it said it was in “active discussions with several potential customers.” But it is unclear if it has progressed on any of those fronts.

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