Amazon Wants to Patent Technology That Will Let You Pay For Stuff With a Selfie

And you thought the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in your new phone was cool.

In an effort to make online shopping more secure (and perhaps more fun?), online retailing giant Amazon has filed a patent that would facial recognition software to allow you confirm your purchases by merely smiling for the camera. The software will confirm that it’s you, and your goodies will be shipped to you with haste!

Amazon called it “Image Analysis for User Authentication,” but that’s just a fancy way to say “Pay with Selfies!” Their reasoning? Typing in passwords takes too long, and touchscreen keyboards are prone to typos. Here’s more from the patent application itself:

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. Further, the entry of these passwords on portable devices is not user friendly in many cases, as the small touchscreen or keyboard elements can be difficult to accurately select using a relatively large human finger, and can require the user to turn away from friends or co-workers when entering a password, which can be awkward or embarrassing in many situations. In order to avoid typing in long passwords in such situations, users often have their passwords stored on their devices or enable information to be stored elsewhere such that an activity can be performed without manually re-entering the password. When using such an approach, however, another person having access to that device can impersonate the user for any task associated with the store password. As a compromise some users utilize short and simple passwords, but these passwords can be easily hacked by an unscrupulous user or application.

A transaction is authorized using an authentication process that prompts the user to perform an action in view of a camera or sensor. The process identifies the user and verifies that the user requesting the transaction is a living human being. The user is identified using image information which is processed utilizing facial recognition. The device verifies that the image information corresponds to a living human using one or more human-verification processes. The device prompts the user to perform an action to confirm the transaction, and causes the transaction to be performed after verifying performance of the action by the identified user.

So basically, rather than trust humans with complicated passwords that can be forgotten or stolen, we want to give shoppers an easier way. Presenting the Pay with Selfie!


See, you even have to wink at the camera so that the system knows some nogoodnik isn’t just holding up your photograph in an attempt to buy… well, literally anything Amazon sells. Which is almost everything.

Devon Taylor (@DevonTaylor113)

Devon Taylor (@DevonTaylor113)

Devon has been writing about random things online since 2013. His favorite video game is Rocket League, his favorite TV show is The Sopranos, and he hated the last season of Game of Thrones. Follow him @DevonTaylor113.