Amazon is reportedly working on a new payment system that would let you check out at Whole Foods by simply waving your hand over a sensor

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED25Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

You soon might be able to pay for your groceries at Whole Foods with just a wave.

Amazon, which owns the high-end grocery chain, is developing a system to identify and keep tabs on the size and shape of customers’ hands, according to a report Tuesday in the New York Post. The company plans to link that data to customers’ accounts and payment information, according to the report. It plan to start rolling out the technology to its Whole Foods store by early next next year, where new scanners would be able to identify customers by their hands and authorise their purchases, the Post reported.

Amazon spokeswoman Amanda Felix declined to comment on the report.

The system will rely on depth scanning and computer vision technologies, according to the report. Amazon is pursuing it, because it promises to significantly speed up customer check-outs. Traditional credit card payment systems take about three to four seconds to process, but Amazon’s hand-scanning system can process a payment in less than 300 milliseconds, the Post reported, citing an unnamed “person familiar with the project.”

Read this: Amazon’s next-day shipping plan could boost sales by up to $US24 billion

Tech companies have been developing and deploying sensors that can detect individuals by certain characteristics unique to them or their bodies for years now. In some cases, that information is already used to authorise payments.

For example, older versions of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, for example, include fingerprint sensors, while newer ones include a sophisticated facial recognition system, and both systems can be used to approve payments. Other so-called biometric systems can recognise people by their irises or by their voices.

Such systems can be more secure and easier to use than passwords, because people don’t have to remember them. However security experts worry that a compromise of such data can be far more dangerous than having passwords stolen. That’s because unlike a password, a person’s face or hand generally can’t be changed.

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