Amazon could soon let shoppers replace their passwords with a selfie. The online retailer filed a patent application for the technology with the explanation that a selfie would be more secure and less “awkward” than a traditional password.
The technology would combine sensor and camera capabilities in smartphones with face and gesture-recognizing software to create a higher security way of recognizing users. In the patent application, Amazon noted, “Such approaches provide for user authentication without the user having to physically interact with a computing device.”
Instead, the online retailer notes that consumers would “access information by looking at a camera, performing a simple gesture such as a smile, or performing another such action.” According to the patent application, the technology would prevent fraud because the smartphone camera would capture video snippets, so a photo couldn’t be used to impersonate them.
The process would replace a password in the same way that a thumbprint replaces a pin code on iPhones and other devices. MasterCard recently launched a selfie and fingerprint payment system based on a similar principle. Windows 10 also allows users to access their computers with a facial scan, rather than a traditional password.
Amazon added in its patent filing that password entries on portable devices can be awkward and are not user-friendly, “as the small touchscreen or keyboard elements can be difficult to accurately select using a relatively large human finger.” Amazon added that the action can cause people to turn away from friends or coworkers for added privacy.
The filing didn’t weigh in on the potential awkwardness of consumers taking a video selfie of themselves blinking, smiling, or tilting their heads as friends look on. Amazon didn’t say when, if ever, their selfie technology will replace traditional passwords.