In the future, your slightly awkward selfies will do more than just get you a few compliments from your grandmother: They might also help you shop for toilet paper, lube, and all the other things you secretly buy on Amazon.
A patent application filed in October and published last week suggests that Amazon is intent on commodifying the selfie and transforming it into a new payment method for customers. The process would require users to essentially perform tricks for a camera or sensor — "certain actions, motions, or gestures, such as to smile, blink, or tilt his or her head" — to verify that he or she is both the right person and a "living human being." Welcome to the future, where we will all inevitably become Derek Zoolander as our technology overlords order us to dance!
As Re/Code notes, the patent builds upon previous Amazon technology that lets a device authenticate someone using a photo or video. This latest patent, however, would extend that authentication so that the user could complete a purchase.
US Patent and Trademark Office Though it sounds weird and invasive, Amazon argues that the selfie transaction may actually be more secure than our current payment methods.
"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," the patent said. "Further, [they] 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." The horror!
The "performance" aspect of the process is also supposedly designed with security in mind, as Amazon predicts that some people will try to simply hold up a photo of user as a way of cheating the system. (Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but we'll update if we hear back.)
MasterCard, too, is trying its hand at selfie tech, having launched a similar program in February. You guys just insist on making my life difficult when I'm trying to drunkenly buy a 24-pack or gummy bears, don't you?