The UK Home Office has invited Innovative Technology to participate in a Sandbox trial that will look at the utility of age estimation technology in real-world settings. The trial will run from January until May of 2022, and will be carried out at a number of convenience stores scattered throughout Northwest England.
The age estimation technology will be used to help facilitate the sale of alcohol. Shopkeepers will still need to verify customer ages manually during the trial, though the results should give regulators a better sense of the accuracy and the efficacy of age estimation tech. In doing so, the trial could help clear the way for fully automated checkout solutions with age verification.
Innovative Technology’s ICU system analyzes someone’s facial features to determine their age. ICU can run without any kind of internet connection, and is anonymous insofar as it only guesses someone’s age, and does not link that age to any personally identifying information. The company also does not store any images of people’s faces once the age scan is complete.
According to Innovative Technology, automated age checks could make work safer for retail employees, who have reported a dramatic increase in abuse from customers during the pandemic. Many of those incidents occurred at the point of sale, when a clerk asked to see a customer’s ID.
“A core objective for us during this trial is to understand the impact such technology can have in helping to reduce any potential abuse and aggression directed at staff who refuse underage customers attempting to buy alcohol,” said ICU Product Manager Andrew O’Brien. “From large supermarket chains to corner shops, we have ensured our product is accessible for all with simple deployment and minimal resources required.”
ICU has been evaluated by the independent Age Check Certification Service (ACCS), which cleared the platform for use in the trial. The organization reported that ICU is accurate to within a year, and on average thinks people are only 0.19 years younger than they actually are.
Innovative Technology joined the Age Verification Providers Association in April of 2021, and recently delivered ICU for staff access control to the St. Alban’s Catholic Primary School in Warrington, England. Yoti has also advocated for the use of automated age estimation technology in the retail sector.
January 31, 2022 – by Eric Weiss