Selfie culture has revolutionized the way we live our lives. We take selfies when we travel. We take selfies to surprise random people in the background. We take selfies to create awesome time lapses. Truly, selfies were an ingenious invention that initially appealed to the narcissist in all of us and eventually led to an entire world of creativity.
Now, it appears that big name companies want to take the selfie even further. Lending further evidence to the idea that the password as we know it is dying, Amazon has filed a patent for a payment system that would allow users to verify their purchases by taking a picture of themselves. Dubbed "Image Analysis for User Authentication," its purpose would be to serve as a more robust method for identity verification.
Amazon's patent application makes it clear this process would replace the password, lamenting its shortcomings by noting that it can be difficult to type if you have "a relatively large human finger." Also, it can cause the unfortunate situation wherein a user has to "turn away from friends or co-workers when entering a password, which can be awkward or embarrassing in many situations."
Although spelling out why a password is awkward looks awkward itself, the point is clear — typing in a set of characters is an archaic way to verify one's identity now that smartphone use is so abundant. At the same time, a selfie-based verification system could introduce a new set of issues — most notably the fact that if nothing but a picture is required, it could be easy to hack. One way to combat this would be to have users "perform certain actions, motions, or gestures, such as to smile, blink, or tilt [their] head[s]," as the application states.
Although Amazon isn't the first to explore selfie verification — MasterCard is already on it — having the e-tail behemoth switch to this method could push other companies to follow suit. With fingerprint verification growing as well, we might be ditching our long-used (and re-used) passwords not far down the road.