Amazon Filed a Patent to Replace Passwords with Selfies

March 28, 2016 | Elizabeth Knowles

Man taking a selfie
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Your face could make your purchases more secure.

Remembering your passwords can be hard. Ones such as “qwerty,” “12345” and “baseball” are frequently included on lists of the worst passwords of the year, but we use them over and over anyways — maybe because we don’t know better, maybe because we can’t be bothered to choose something safer, or maybe just because we’re afraid of not remembering something more complicated.

If you’re one of those people or someone who uses the same password for every website you sign up with, you’ll be happy to hear that Amazon wants to make your online purchases both easier and more secure.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Just Filed a Patent for a Foldable Smartphone

On March 10, Amazon filed a patent to replace passwords with selfies. Yes, you read that right — you may soon be able to use your face as your password. That leads to the crucial question of how Amazon will know whether it’s you or some random person holding up a picture of you in front of the camera. They bring up the issue in their own patent application:

“Such a process can potentially be spoofed by holding or otherwise providing a picture or other representation of an authorized user within a field of view of a camera of a computing device, as the relative point distribution determined from the image will be substantially the same as if the computing device was capturing an image of the actual user.”

Don’t worry — Amazon has a pretty elegant solution. The camera will take not one but two pictures, and it will instruct you to change something in the second one. You might be required to tilt your head, wink, or smile for example.

“A transaction is authorized using an authentication process that prompts the user to perform an action in view of a camera or sensor. The process identifies the user and verifies that the user requesting the transaction is a living human being,” Amazon explains in the patent application.

This isn’t the first time a company has thought to use pictures as part of an authentication process. Many banks have already made it possible to deposit checks using a smartphone camera, and Windows Hello lets Windows users with the right hardware use infrared facial scanning software and biometrics to log in.

Would you feel safe enough trusting Amazon to know that you’re you? Get ready to say cheese!

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