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Panera Bread Is Testing a Controversial, Sci-Fi-Esque Technology

The checkout counter’s taking a futuristic turn at two St. Louis Paneras.

The bakery-cafe chain is testing palm-scanning Amazon One tech, which has already been utilized in dozens of Amazon-owned Whole Foods locations, Amazon Go stores and select stadiums and arenas, to provide customers with a quicker way to connect to their loyalty program and pay, CNBC reported.

Related: Amazon One Lets You Pay With The Palm of Your Hand

It’s not the first time the chain, which boasts more than 2,000 locations and upwards of 52 million loyalty program members, has relied on technology to streamline its operations.

By 2017, after six years of experimentation, Panera was an early adopter of online ordering and saw great success, earning it a reputation as one of the “most technologically savvy” chains in the industry, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Amazon One positions palm scanners near the restaurant’s registers; to check out with them, customers must link their Panera loyalty program accounts to Amazon One (at home or in-restaurant) and switch on loyalty identification and payments for their accounts, per CNN.

“We think the payment plus loyalty identification is the secret sauce that can unlock a really personalized, warm and efficient experience for our guests in our cafes,” Panera chief digital officer George Hanson told the outlet.

Related: Amazon Opens Revolutionary Whole Foods With Technology That Could Make More Than 3 Million Jobs Obsolete

Naturally, Amazon One’s use of biometrics has raised privacy concerns. Security experts say that even palm scans can pose a threat because the collected data is stored in a cloud, per The Washington Post.

Amazon contends that the palm images are encrypted and transferred to a secure, “custom-built area” in the cloud, but the questions have already led to real pushback: Last March, Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado pulled Amazon One from its venue at the urging of privacy groups.

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