UK retailers explore facial analysis technology for customer age verification

Yoti facial analysis tech for age estimation
AGE CHECK: The age-estimation technology analyses the customer’s face to calculate their age

Supermarkets, convenience stores and other retailers in the UK could soon begin trialling facial analysis technology that enables them to verify a customer’s age when purchasing alcohol at self-checkouts without requiring a staff member to check their ID.

Ten of the country’s largest retailers, as well as “a number of ecommerce and convenience stores”, are discussing the possibility of piloting the age estimation technology with its UK-based developer, according to a report in the i newspaper.

Digital identity provider Yoti has developed its age-estimation technology using software that analyses an image of the customer’s face to calculate their age without needing to access ID data and without storing the image after the verification process is complete.

“Our age algorithm currently estimates the age of 16-25 years olds within 2.35 years’ accuracy, which is better than human judgment,” Yoti says.

“You can configure the age threshold so that anyone that looks under your age-checking policy has to prove their age with their Yoti digital ID, which is anchored by a government-approved ID document and a biometric selfie.

“The whole process is contactless and involves less staff intervention, so in coronavirus times, you can protect both your staff and your customer’s safety. Our age estimation technology also works with face masks.”

The move follows a call for proposals issued by the UK Home Office last month that invites “industry and retail to test innovative approaches to age verification, such as digital ID and other products with age assurance attributes, in the specific context of the sale of alcohol under the Licensing Act 2003”.

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