Supermarkets using facial recognition to check the age of wine buyers? Oh, the flattery

People who are looking for facial recognition security system

And the software says: “21.”


Increasingly, you have no choice.

You are surfing through an airport. The only way you can keep going towards your destination is to stand in front of the camera and let it take a picture of you, to confirm who you are.

But have you thought about all the other amazing ways facial recognition technology can make your life easier and happier?

Pinot and a picture, anyone?

Please let me draw you a picture. You are at your favorite supermarket. There is a special offer for the powerful Pinot and you cannot resist.

You go to pay and you are not asked for any documents to prove your age. Instead, there’s a camera that, bundled with smart software, estimates your age.

In my imagination, it said to me, “Honey, you’re not over 38.”

In fact, the system has recently been tested in many popular UK supermarkets. Likes Asda and Tesco has been testing a system created by a company called Yoti.

This company, quite naturally, likes the motto: “Digital identity as a force for good”. Because what else could it be?

However, this large face check was conducted in conjunction with the authorities. Yes, Britain’s Home Office – which may have hosted a booze party or two during the pandemic – is closely involved.

The twin joys of Yotification

There are two aspects to this Yotification system. The first may be the most intriguing. For this software, estimate how old you are, as you are eagerly waiting to pay your Pinot.

Yoti claims the beauty of it is that you don’t need to provide any personal information. The company adds that any images are processed instantly.

But what if the software thinks you are too young? Well, the people in this experiment were then asked to use one of two apps — one by Yoti and one by the UK Post — to scan a QR code and confirm their age.

So you’re trying to hurry up, but still have to find an app on your phone, open it, and scan? Is that really faster than showing your ID to a human?

However, I have a fascination with the third possibility. What if you were one of those young men who happened to grow a surprising amount of beard, making you look much older than your actual 17 years? We’ll get to that in a minute, because Yoti is keen to declare that this test has had excellent results.

Apparently, all of these supermarkets now want to be Yotified forever. This would require the government to change its laws. Furthermore, Yoti states, “The majority of shoppers who have used Yoti’s digital proof solutions enjoy the technology and will reuse it when it becomes available.”

Also: Supermarkets are taking funny steps to prevent self-checkout theft (customers hate it)

There are more lovely results. Example: “Digital age verification technology has provided an opportunity to reduce the number of physical age interventions, giving retail staff more time to monitor other activities, including detect authorized sales.”

I don’t know how often you like to interfere with age, but, hi, Yotification seems to reduce it.

Here’s what’s supposed to be the next positive: “Yoti’s facial age estimates are more inclusive as anyone looking past the required age threshold doesn’t need to carry identification to prove their age.”

Did I hear you mutter something disdainful? Did you hear me wish it would show the exact estimated age? Just think of the warm feelings that can be born.

Perfect. Really, it’s perfect

Now to the more surprising aspect — choose the meaning of that word carefully — the aspect of the experiment.

“No underage customers buy age-restricted items using Yoti’s new age verification technology,” Yoti said.

It’s pitiful. A technology that claims to be perfect.

I feel you are still a bit skeptical. Well, Yoti wants you to know that you’re in the minority: “With 70% of people saying they would use facial age estimation when purchasing age-restricted goods at self-checkout, we believe shoppers and retailers are ready to embrace this new technology.”

I’m sure I should have mentioned this before, but somehow it slipped from my mind. This whole thing has been tested at self check. Some shoppers have very strong opinions on how those should be handled nowadays.

Why, another big British supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, doesn’t trust its self-checkout customers so much now installed a portal where they have to scan their receipts before being allowed to leave.

U.S. retailers are also complaining about the notion that paying with technology is the best way forward. They repeatedly complain that self-payment has increased theft.

Ah, but Yotification is definitely just one more step for our faces to become our fully digital phone cards.

Nothing will go wrong, I promise.


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