Amazon have filed a patent for a means of using facial recognition to validate the users' identity:

With facial recognition, technology measures and records various points on a human face. The user just takes a selfie on their mobile device in order to authenticate access to any channel. This technology is already being adopted by financial institutions, as well as other verticals becoming increasingly concerned about the validity of users logging on to their sites.

So what's to prevent fraudsters from using a photo from social media? The proposed Amazon system will ask users to do something specific, such as blink or wink, actions "that cannot be replicated with a two-dimensional image," the patent says.

The idea seems to be that forcing the user to do something in response to a real-time prompt will prove that they're not just being fed a still image grabbed by a fraudster. I wonder how elaborate those actions will end up being? It's one thing to ask the user to blink or wink, but what if the user is wearing spectacles or sunglasses? 1 Perhaps they'll expand the range of actions they ask the user to do and it'll end up like a game of Simon Says: 'Amazon Says Stick Your Tongue Out', or 'Amazon Says Touch The Tip Of Your Nose' or suchlike.

Then the high street banks adopt the same technology and we have people at ATMs, playing Simon Says on the high street. At which point the fun really starts when people who've been for a night out and have run out of cash before their evening is over find themselves trying to play Simon Says to the standard their friendly bank's ATM expects whilst inebriated. Perhaps we'd better just hope that everyone adopts a Apple-style TouchID system instead. 2

[Via notes.husk.org.]

  1. Yes, I realise that the simple answer is to require the user to remove their glasses before they validate their ID. Work with me hereā€¦

  2. I write this as someone who has been using a new iPad mini 4 with TouchID enabled for the last week and is astonished at how quick and reliable it's been so far. At this early stage in the relationship with my new toy, I keep thinking that I'll have to hold my finger down and being pleasantly surprised at how rapidly the iPad unlocks itself. 3

  3. Also noteworthy so far is how much nicer using Safari is when your device has enough system RAM that it isn't forced to reload tabs if you've so much as looked away from Safari for more than 30 seconds like my original model iPad mini was.