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Aug 22, 2022 6 min read

🎙 Podcast #7: Amazon One Palm Authentication | BeReal | CyberOne | Great Drummers

🎙 Podcast #7: Amazon One Palm Authentication | BeReal | CyberOne | Great Drummers

Co-host Shaun Weston and I discuss Amazon One, the palm-reading biometric scanner that will pay your bill at the checkout. Plus photo-sharing BeReal, humanoid robots and the greatest drummers of all time!


Big Tech Little Tech Episode #7

Listen to Shaun and I talk Big tech, Little Tech and all tech in between in our fortnightly chat that takes the seriousness out of the serious.

In Episode #7

  • Rick talks about social media app BeReal, which is doing rather well for itself just two years after launch. Could it be compared to the early days of Twitter?
  • Shaun's favourite tech this week is Xiaomi’s CyberOne humanoid robot. The official CyberOne promo video is worth a giggle for how slow the robot walks, yet it’s a huge leap forward in terms of what the Xiaomi Robotics Lab is working on.
  • Amazon is launching its palm scanner payment technology into more than 65 Whole Foods stores in California. It’s called One, and this will be its biggest rollout so far.
  • Rick reveals his all-time favourite drummer, and talks about his love for Whiplash. Shaun needs help from listeners in finding out who the drummer was on the Dirty Harry soundtrack 🥁 See you next episode!


Hey Presto! With The Wave Of Your Hand, Amazon Knows Who You Are

When you think of Jeff Bezos and Amazon, you think “convenience”. Every innovation from Amazon has sought to make the consumer experience a more convenient one.

The latest tech in play is palm biometrics. Instead of fumbling for a credit card at the checkout or waving your phone at a card machine, Amazon One reads your palm. With the wave of your hand over a scanner, the bill is paid. Hey presto!

Palm Reading: Amazon has announced plans to expand its palm-scanning payment technology to 65 Whole Food stores in California. Amazon One is a palm-scanning payment system that uses machine learning to identify customers with just their hand prints.

The tech works like this:

🫱 Users visit a kiosk or a point-of-sale station at the participating stores

🫱 They link the biometric profile of their palm to a payment card. They do this while they wait 😂.

🫱 From then on, all they have to do is hover their hand over a scanner at the checkout and, bingo, they've paid for their stuff,

Convenience: Customers no longer have to go through the time-consuming trouble and effort of getting their credit card out or waving their iPhone over the card reader. That's another first world problem solved!

However, this isn't proving to be all plain sailing for Amazon.

Privacy Concerns: Here's the thing that's dogging the Amazon tech: Amazon One holds the hand-palm biometric data in the cloud.

Which is different to how Apple does it with FaceID or TouchID or Samsung does it with Samsung Pass. Apple and Samsung store the data on the local device. Amazon One stores it in the cloud (because your hand is not an electronic device until you get a chip implanted under the skin.)

Deja Vue: We've been here before! When Amazon bought ticketing company AXS last year, they had a plan to roll out the palm-recognising tech at a Denver music venue. But fans pushed back, citing concerns over data privacy, sharing the data with government agencies and the risk of their IDs being hacked.

Was this unnecessary paranoia from the music fraternity? Er, no! Amazon have form when it comes to privacy concerns..

🕵️‍♀️ Amazon have been known to hang onto Alexa voice data even after the users have deleted it.

🕵️‍♀️ In 2020, Amazon introduced a self-imposed moratorium on selling biometric facial recognition data to law enforcement agencies in the US.

🕵️‍♀️ In 2019, the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post reported that Amazon's Ring camera company partnered with more than 400 police forces across the U.S. to gain access to homeowners’ camera footage.

The Takeaway: Matching convenience with privacy is tricky.

Apple has navigated this terrain well, only falling foul with the CSAM issue when they announced they'd be checking uploaded iCloud images against a child sex abuse database. Tim Cook has made privacy a defining differentiator and claimed that ground.

For Amazon, it's not proving so easy. And whilst Amazon wants to make consumers' lives as effortless as possible, it's going to also have to address the growing list of concerns that it can be trusted with their data.

Further Reading

BeReal And The Return To Authenticity in Social Media
BeReal has momentum. It’s the number 1 downloaded free app and everyone’s talking about it. It’s bucking the TikTok trend for viral content. Instead, promising closer connections between friends, no addictive features, and an authenticity to social engagement we’ve not seen in a decade.
Tesla’s AI Day
Newsletter #30 (Premium): Every year Tesla has “a day”. This year, it was AI Day, and it threw up a few surprises; Robots, AI supercomputers and the verticalisation of Tesla.
Robots and the Rise of the Machines
Wiser! #20 (Premium): Strategic Insight on the global robotics market that is growing at 20% CAGR. With China leading the way and Robots deployed in many industries. Plus Nike case study
Ambient Computing: Amazon’s in the house
Wiser! #38 (Premium): Amazon has unveiled a clutch of digital smart tech for the home in its pursuit of ambient computing, inc robots, wearables, drones, smartspeakers and AI.

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📖 Book Of The Week: The First Super App

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