Supermarket cameras to guess the age of alcohol buyers

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Major supermarket chains have begun testing an automated age verification system to avoid staff waiting at automatic checkouts when buying alcohol.

The test will use cameras that can estimate the age of each customer. It is part of a test of Home Office technologies to help with the sale of alcohol.

Asda, Co-op and Morrisons are installing the system in some stores. The same technology is already used at Aldi’s cashless store in London. If customers consent, the camera will guess their age, using algorithms trained on a database of anonymous faces. If you decide they are under 25, they will need to show identification to a member of staff.

Keep the rythm’ Waiting for age approval on self-checkout is sometimes frustrating for shoppers,” said Robin Tombs, chief executive of Yoti, the company providing the technology.

“Our age verification solutions are helping retailers like Asda meet the requirements of regulators around the world and keep pace with consumer demands for fast and convenient services, while preserving the privacy of customers.” persons”.

This is not facial recognition, Yoti insists, which tries to match individual faces to those in a database. And the system will not retain the images you take. Privacy concerns Tested on more than 125,000 faces between the ages of 6 and 60, the algorithm, on average, estimated their age to within 2.2 years, 1.5 among those aged 16 to 20.

Asda’s senior director of retail innovation, Geri Hebberd, said the supermarket was excited to try the technology and was “looking forward to seeing what our customers think”.

We know how hard-pressed some of our customers are, so we always want to make things quicker and easier for them when they shop with us,” he added.

Privacy concerns arose in 2020, when 18 co-op stores tested a facial recognition system, from startup Facewatch, that alerted staff to customers with a history of “theft or antisocial behavior.”

And meanwhile, Sainsbury’s tested a hidden AI-enabled detector that sent video footage to security staff if customers kept an item.