The Chinese e-cigarette manufacturer RELX Technology is using biometrics to keep tobacco products out of the hands of children. The company has announced that it will be installing facial recognition cameras at all of its retail locations in China, allowing RELX to monitor the age of anyone that sets foot in the store.
The program has been dubbed Project Sunflower, and it will lead to multiple deployments of facial recognition over the next few months. The cameras at RELX retail outlets will flag suspected minors, prompting staff to approach the customer and ask for an ID. Anyone who cannot provide a valid ID will subsequently be asked to leave the store.
Those who are legally old enough to purchase tobacco should still expect to have their faces scanned. Anyone purchasing any product at a RELX location will have their face matched to their ID during checkout to ensure that the document does indeed belong to the person engaged in the transaction.
Project Sunflower will also be deployed in smart vending machines that use the same facial recognition tech to safely distribute RELX products.
“We are committed to ensuring that our products do not end up in the hands of minors,” said RELX CEO Kate Wang. “Project Sunflower is utilizing the latest technology to strengthen the prevention of minors from accessing our vapor products.”
RELX plans to introduce Project Sunflower at 100 stores in the next three months, and hopes to expand the program to all of its Chinese outlets before the end of July. The company is also working on a product tracking system that will allow it to clamp down on underage vaping once the products leave the store.
RELX is not the first company to use biometrics to dispense restricted goods through vending machines. PanPacific has released a machine that uses finger vein authentication to sell beer, and Emerald Organic Products will soon place CBD in vending machines after gaining a controlling stake in Bezalel Jewelry.
Project Sunflower arrives shortly after China made face scans mandatory for mobile accounts, and serves as yet another example of China’s increasingly widespread use of facial recognition for the distribution of goods and services.
December 20, 2019 – by Eric Weiss