Amazon has been a top innovator in the online shopping space since their inception, bringing online shopping subscriptions, online book buying from your e-reader and other trends all into vogue. Whether they're using their star power to bring existing shopping tropes into popularity or inventing completely new ways to pay for and gobble up content, Amazon has made a name for themselves as one of the top brass in the online shopping space over the years. Their newest patent application blazes the same trail and is focused on authentication and payment. Specifically, Amazon wants to give consumers the ability to authenticate their purchases using nothing but their own likeness.
The patent application, filed on March 10, is actually related to another patent they already have to identify and authenticate users based on their photo. This new patent is apparently a twist on that one, which will allow the completion of a transaction and also has some additional security features. In some of the pictures shown, extensive facial mapping is used to identify the person in question, then a prompt is given for the user to do something on camera to ensure it's really them and not a picture or recording. In the image above, you can see that the user has been asked to wink. The camera takes this motion as both authentication of the user and acceptance of the action or transaction at hand.
This patent is meant to help reduce user reliance on passwords, which can be insecure and are easily forgotten. Additionally, it can be awkward to enter your password while busy or out and about and, according to a statement by Amazon, can even make you seem antisocial. In order to curb this, some users opt to store their passwords on-device to copy and paste, or even have the app in question save them. Naturally, should their device fall into the wrong hands, this could lead to fraudulent actions or even outright identity theft. With the practice of password entry replaced by a simple photo, users will, hopefully, enjoy a more secure and intuitive experience. This was attempted before, by Google, in the form of Face Unlock for Android devices, and came under scrutiny for security concerns. Amazon's patent seems to point to a more secure solution, but the stigma on face-based security is already there in the public eye. If Amazon is able to overcome this and get a large number of users to make use of this new authentication method, they may just be able to do away with the ill will surrounding such ventures.