Face Recognition May Soon Replace ID at the Checkout Counter
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Supermarkets Are Replacing IDs with AI Face Recognition For Age-Restricted Items

Face Recognition

Supermarkets are trialing face recognition tech that could replace ID checks for age-restricted items. But the algorithm is not without its faults. (Photo: Youtube/Wired)

The scourge of fake IDs may soon be a thing of the past as UK supermarkets trial a new artificial algorithm that determines customers’ age using face recognition.

The trial, which is being run by UK’s Home Office, is being tested at various supermarket self-service checkouts across the country. Customers have the choice of opting for a facial scan at the checkout counter or using a scan facilitated by an app on their phone.

The new technology comes courtesy of Yoti, a London-based “digital identity company.”

According to Yoti, the algorithm can detect people aged 13-17 as under the age of 23 with 99.65 percent accuracy, and people aged 6-11 years as under 13 with 98.91 percent accuracy.

Of course, this technology does not come without its caveats.

Though the algorithm can accurately predict users’ age within certain benchmarks, it is still unable to identify exact ages. In the case of the ongoing UK trials, this means that customers thought to be under 25 need to have their ID checked by a store associate.

Furthermore, Yoti’s data shows that there is slightly more estimation error for females over males and for darker skin tones over lighter ones.

Still, Yoti’s algorithm will likely only become more accurate with time. Since the AI uses machine learning trained on a backlog of human faces and accompanying age data, trials like these hypothetically only strengthen its predictive capabilities.

Discussions of facial recognition technology are oftentimes accompanied by concerns regarding our right to privacy and the gradual infringement of surveillance in our day-to-day lives.

Yoti has assured the public that the technology only age verifies an individual and cannot identify them. Reportedly, it immediately deletes all images of users from its catalog.

If this new facial recognition AI performs well in the UK Home Office’s ongoing trials, there’s a good chance it will begin showing up at nightclubs, bars and more.

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Pedro Wolfe is the managing editor of Tequila Raiders. With several years of experience writing for the New York Daily News and the Foothills Business Daily under his belt, Pedro aims to combine quality reviews and recipes with incisive articles on the cutting edge of the tequila world. Pedro has traveled to the heartland of the spirits industry in Tequila, Mexico, and has conducted interviews with agave spirits veterans throughout Mexico, South Africa and California. Through this diverse approach, Tequila Raiders aims to celebrate not only tequila but the rich tapestry of agave spirits that spans mezcal, raicilla, bacanora, pulque and so much more.