Google Tests ‘Hands-Free’ Shopping Via Digital Photos
Talk about the power of a pretty face: Google is testing a mobile payments technology that enables consumers with smartphones to pay for retail transactions via facial recognition.
The test, taking place in the Silicon Valley area, relies on digital photos and stored payment card details to produce what Google expects will be hands-free transactions. The program, called Hands Free, requires consumers with Android devices or iPhones to download an app, enter and store their payment card data on the app and then employ Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to determine if they’re near a participating store. The phone detects if the store is a Hands Free location. At checkout, the consumer tells the cashier something along the lines of “I’ll pay with Google,” and then gives her initials to the cashier, who then checks that the consumer is who she says she is, via the photo accessed via the store’s Hands Free technology. Google says it does not share consumers’ payment card information with the stores, only with payment processors. Consumers receive instant notifications of all Hands Free purchases and are required to approve all “suspicious transactions.”
Participating stores include a small number of McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations, along with some locally owned restaurants. “At select stores, we’re also in the early stages of experimenting with visual identification so that you can breeze through checkout even faster,” said Pali Bhat, Google’s senior director, product management. “This process uses an in-store camera to automatically confirm your identity based on your Hands Free profile picture. All images captured by the Hands Free camera are deleted immediately.”
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