Vending machine says 'no' to minors

Vending machine says 'no' to minors

Face-recognition technology prevents kids buying cigarettes

Japanese manufacturer Fujitaka has constructed a vending machine which it claims can tell the difference between adults and minors.

The idea is to prevent underage customers from purchasing products such as cigarettes and alcohol.

The vending machine has an 'adult recognition' button which the customer presses to activate a face-recognition camera in the upper section of the machine.

The machine takes about three seconds to analyse features such as bone structure and frame, the extent to which the skin sags and any wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.

"Fujitaka is launching products that tackle social problems such as underage drinking and smoking, thereby pioneering a new direction for retail outlets," said a Fujitaka spokesman. "This is the optimum system for smokers and vendors. "

In tests of 500 people aged between 10 and 69, the machine was about 90 per cent accurate in distinguishing adults from minors.

In cases where the judgement is dubious, the vending machine errs on the side of caution and customers are asked to insert a driving licence. The machine scans the licence and compares the photo on the card with the photo taken.

Fujitaka said that machines with face recognition technology will make it easier for elderly smokers who may have difficulty scanning cards.

The firm hopes to sell around 10,000 units in the first year. There is no word as to whether Fujitaka intends to roll out the technology to countries outside Japan.