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Amazon One palm print payment service is coming to more Whole Foods locations

Amazon’s palm scanning technology is expanding to 65 Whole Foods locations across California. The checkout devices were introduced in 2020 as part of the Amazon One payment service, allowing customers to pay with a scan of their palm. This is the biggest rollout by the company yet, with the first new Whole Foods locations adding support today in Malibu, Montana Avenue, and Santa Monica.

Customers can set up Amazon One by registering their palm print using a kiosk or at a point of sale station at participating stores. To register, you need to provide a payment card and phone number, agree to Amazon’s terms of service, and share an image of your palms. Once completed, you can take items to checkout and not have to take out your wallet — or even your phone — a hover of your hand over the device is all that’s needed to pay and leave.

The Amazon One rollout is part of the company’s campaign to change how customers interact at retail stores and runs alongside its Just Walk Out-enabled stores with technologies that make it faster to pay. Amazon One is designed to identify you accurately and allow you to pay at Amazon-owned stores, but the company is looking to expand the technology to outside businesses as well.

Several Whole Foods locations have already been testing the palm-scanning tech in the LA area, as well in Austin, Seattle, and New York. It’s also been available at the company’s Amazon Style store in Glendale, and at select Amazon Go and Fresh stores.

Amazon states that the images taken on the kiosk aren’t stored locally, instead they are encrypted and then sent to a cloud server that is dedicated for Amazon One where an identifiable palm signature is generated. My colleague James Vincent wrote more about how the technology works and its concerns in 2020.

Amazon has found success in convincing millions of customers to provide them with data in exchange for a more convenient lifestyle. Things like online shopping, grocery shopping, using Alexa, Ring smart cameras, doorbells, and now room-mapping robot vacuum cleaners are all areas that Amazon collects data in, and that will continue to be a concern to privacy advocates.

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Tech News

Google Search AR summons Pac-Man on your palm

Google may have ditched its Daydream VR platform but it’s still holding on to augmented reality, at least without the headset. Google recently released WebXR, short for Extended Reality, experiments that showcased more practical uses for AR on your phone but most of its AR experiences really revolved around entertaining or sometimes educational experiences instead. Google’s mobile Search, in particular, has been putting virtual objects in the real world via your phone’s screen, and its latest trick is to call forth Japan’s most iconic characters, wherever you are in the world.

Japan is known for many things and quite a lot of those border on the eccentric and sometimes even downright odd. Of course, Japanese franchises have spanned not decades of products, properties, and characters, and some might be more familiar to those outside of the country than others.

For example, some might not be aware that the gluttonous yellow sphere known as Pac-Man actually originated in Japan but, these days, those who do know Evangelion will have no doubts about the fictional series’ origins. From the cute Hello Kitty to the towering Gundam, Japan has been home to many artifacts of pop culture now known throughout the world. And like many such big properties, there have been real-world recreations in Japan but you don’t have to fly halfway around the world just to see them.

In fact, thanks to Google’s AR, you can actually see them right in your room or wherever you decided to point your phone’s camera to. In some cases, the characters just stand on your floor or desk, waving around, but Pac-Man’s AR “sticker” has the hero chomping pellets around a circle, followed by a Congo line of ghosts. Also, be prepared to make some room for the gigantic Ultraman should you decide to view him in his actual size.

Granted, these aren’t exactly the futuristic augmented reality applications one might imagine from science fiction and some Google Search AR stickers are designed to inform rather than just entertain. That said, it’s also good to see Google’s collection grow to cover all kinds of themes and objects, including and especially those coming from other cultures.

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Tech News

LG G8 hands-on: Could the future of smartphones be in the palm of my hand?

The LG G8 can’t fold, doesn’t take 4K selfies, and won’t wirelessly charge another phone. It pretty much uses the same design as the G7 from last year, which means it doesn’t have a triple-camera setup like the V40. But it just might be one of the most intriguing phones of the year.

Whether that translates into sales is the big question, but my usually jaded hands couldn’t wait to pick up the G8 following LG’s briefing. I wanted to try it out almost as much as Samsung’s $2,000 Galaxy Fold. And I walked away feeling like LG might be onto something, after a string of one-and-done gimmicks going all the way back to the G5’s modular Friends accessories and the V20’s second screen.

lg g8 frontMichael Simon/IDG

It’s easy to mistake the LG G8 for the LG G7.

In person, the G8 is essentially a G7 with a vertical camera array. On paper, the G8 is a typical LG flagship phone, filled with high-end specs that put it in good company with the rest of 2019’s premium phones:

  • Display: 6.1-inch OLED Quad HD, 3120×1440, 564ppi
  • Processor: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Rear camera: 16MP wide, f/1.9 + 12MP standard, f/1.5
  • Front camera: 8MP, f/1.7
  • Battery: 3,500mAh

But the G8 is LG’s first ‘G’ phone in a while that doesn’t feel a least a little hobbled. For one, it finally uses an OLED display, a feature that was previously reserved for its ‘V’ phones. But more importantly, it doesn’t have to wait to use the newest Snapdragon 855 processor. Qualcomm’s exclusive collaboration with Samsung on the 835 and 845 forced the G7 to arrive months late, and the G6 to use an older chip. It’s also got the other features LG has been adding to its ‘G’ phones over the years: Quad DAC, Boombox sound, IP68, HDR10, AI Cam, and the dedicated Google Assistant button.

Design-wise, the G8 is still very much an LG phone, with a notch and a chin, and noticeable bezels all around. It’s not terrible, but it’s not going to win any awards either, and like the G7 it emulates, it looks a little stale next to the latest handsets from Samsung and Apple. The back camera is entirely under glass, however, which gives the phone a sleeker touch.

Inside the notch you’ll find the biggest changes to the G8. First off, you won’t find a receiver, because LG has turned the whole display into a speaker by combining its Boombox amplifier with its new Crystal Sound OLED tech. LG says you’ll be able to listen clearly underwater—something I wasn’t able to test—but you’ll need to be more mindful of the volume of your calls lest anyone listen to what the other person is saying.

lg g8 hand idMichael Simon/IDG

Hand ID prompts you to move your hand just like the fingerprint scanner does.

Also new to the notch is a time-of-flight camera, and it’s here where LG gets wild. LG previously announced the use of the Infineon sensor, but now we know it’s for more than facial recognition and enhanced selfies (though the G8 brings both of those things). LG is using its ‘Z’ camera to let you control your phone in truly unique ways, called Hand ID and AirMotion.

If those aren’t the most LG names ever, I don’t know what are. When the new features were announced, there were audible snickers in the room. But while they may seem like the kind of eye-rolling gimmicks typical of a 2015 phone rather than a 2019 one, they’re not as silly as they sound. Even after just an hour of playing around with them, I could see how they could be useful. If LG takes the time to develop them, the G8’s touchless gestures might one day become as commonplace as the fingerprint sensor or navigation bar.

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