Amazon is expanding its palm-scanning technology, Amazon One, from grocery stores to corporate offices with the launch of Amazon One Enterprise. This version of the biometric system is designed to enable employees to gain access to buildings, computers, and sensitive data by waving their palm over a scanner. Several major corporations, including IHG, Boon Edam, and Kone, have already signed up to pilot the technology, highlighting its potential for secure, convenient, and cost-effective access control.

Palm scanning operates by capturing images of the unique vein patterns inside an individual’s hand using near-infrared light. The scanner creates a detailed map of the palm’s lines, ridges, and veins, which serves as a biometric identifier. Upon enrolment, an employee’s palm print is converted into a digital template stored in a secure database. Each subsequent scan matches the print to the template, confirming the employee’s identity.

Amazon asserts that palm data remains on the user’s premises and is not shared with third parties without consent. Enterprises can manage their biometric data using Amazon Web Services or their own servers. The company contends that palm scanning is more private than certain biometrics, such as facial recognition, as the images themselves don’t reveal a person’s identity. Moreover, palm prints are harder to lift and replicate compared to fingerprints.

While Amazon positions palm scanning as a secure and convenient form of access control, privacy advocates express concerns about centralised databases of physical identifiers, especially when operated by a company like Amazon. The expansion of biometric authentication, whether through palm scanning, iris scanning, or voice recognition, raises complex issues around consent, data usage, and personal freedom that society is still grappling with.

As biometric technologies continue to evolve, their adoption in workplaces and daily life is expected to increase. The benefits of enhanced security and convenience are countered by ongoing discussions about privacy and ethical considerations associated with these advancements.