Mar 16, 2016

Amazon Selfie Patent - 'Smile' and the Goods are Yours!

Amazon customers could soon use a 'selfie' to purchase goods, instead of using the usual 'one-click' or 'username and password' procedure.

They Seattle-based company has filed a patent to allow its customers to pay for goods by simply taking photos of the user's face to approve their online purchase.

Rights a Patent Gives

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is the product or a process that provides a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem. It provides protection for the invention to the owner of the patent for a period of time.

Amazon's patent application was first spotted by Re/Code. It concerns a payment method using the popular selfie mode, where buyers are required to send two photos: one selfie and another in which they are required to blink, smile or tilt their head to confirm that they are a real person and not a picture. Amazon already has a patent for technology to authenticate a person's identity using photo or video, but this is not necessarily required to complete a transaction, which this new patent hopes to achieve and monopolise if it is granted.

Advance Facial Recognition

One of the reasons Amazon has filed a patent for a supposedly safer method of completing transactions on their website, is that selfies are safer than facial recognition software which 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.

Much of the focus in the patent application is towards the need for safer technology in respect of 'one-click' transactions online. It is also hoped that the new technology will prevent hackers from accessing customers Amazon accounts. Another potential benefit of the technology is that children who use their parent's devices to make in-app purchases will be deterred as their parent's faces will be required to approve the transaction.

"While many conventional approaches rely on password entry for user authentication, these passwords can be stolen or discovered by other persons who can impersonate the user for any of a variety of tasks" the patent application reads.

The selfie 'password' has been adopted by a wave of e-commerce and financial service companies, as a more secure and efficient alternative to passwords.

Last month, Mastercard confirmed it would accept selfies and fingerprints instead of account passwords in the UK. Microsoft Windows 10 and Android smartphones both already allow users to unlock their phones by looking at the camera. Smart wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay have also started to let consumers pay for things using the fingerprint scanner.

in: News, Patents

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