Amazon wants to let you make payments with just a wink

Face recognition
You could soon be making Amazon payments with a smile.

A trawl through new patent applications always provides an interesting insight into the way tech companies are thinking, even if the products they describe never make it to the consumer market.

Here's an idea Amazon's mulling over: selfies for payments. In other words, rather than using a passcode or fingerprint to authenticate your latest purchase at McDonald's or Starbucks, you can use a shot of your face.

There's a catch though, because you'd need to perform a certain action such as a smile or a wink to prove you really are who you say you are. According to the patent documentation, Amazon believes it's more secure than a password, because no one can steal your face.

Smile like you mean it

This isn't too dissimilar to the face recognition technology we already have on some laptops and smartphones, but Amazon wants to add instant payments to the mix as well as specifying certain physical actions that mean the system can't be duped with a static photo.

Online purchases could potentially be included too, so if you didn't want to stand in a store winking and grinning then you could do it in the privacy of your own home. The question is, will it stop you from making late-night eBay purchases after one too many beers?

You can read the patent in full over at the US Patent & Trademark Office website. As Re/code reports, several other companies, including Mastercard and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, have similar technology in the pipeline too.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.