BRITISH SUPERMARKETS are to trial facial recognition tech to verify the age of shoppers buying cigarettes and alcohol.
A report at The Telegraph sheds light on the plans, which will see the mug-scanning tech rolled out at self-service checkouts and likely "applied more widely" in 2019.
The pilot scheme is being led by US technology outfit NCR, which makes self-service checkout machines for a number of UK supermarkets, including Tesco and Asda. The company will integrate what it describes as an AI-powered camera into the machines, which will be used to estimate the age of shoppers when they are buying age restricted items.
This, it claims, will reduce the need for staff to approve or determine shoppers' ages, and either accept or deny the sale of the item.
Robin Tombs, chief executive of digital identity app Yoti, which has partnered with NCR on the scheme, told The Telegraph: "Waiting for age approval at self-checkouts is a source of frustration for many shoppers, who just want to get home as quickly as possible.
"Our integration with NCR delivers a frictionless and innovative way for customers to prove their age in seconds. It's a simple process that helps retailers meet the requirements of regulators worldwide."
While it all sounds rather dystopian, the system, Yoti pledges, will not retain any visual information about users after they have made a purchase, nor will any shoppers be required to register their identity in advance.
Regular beer-swiggers will, however, be able to speed-up the process by using a smartphone app to prove their age at the till. The app, also made by Yoti, does require a customer to register their ID and face with the company beforehand, however.
Neither NCR or Yoti has coughed on which supermarkets will use the technology initially, but have said that two of the big four supermarkets - that's Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda - will be piloting the technology later this year.
Sainsbury's, which recently launched its first checkout-free store in Blighty, told The Telegraph, however, that it won't be taking part in the initiative. µ
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