Innovative Technology (ITL) has been selected by the UK government’s Home Office ministry to participate in a pilot program that estimates the age of customers based on biometric data to verify individuals’ eligibility to buy alcohol.
Home Office invited organizations to propose digital methods of checking customers’ ages while purchasing alcohol. The trial run is said to take place from January 2022 to May 2022 across convenience stores in Northwest England using Innovative Technology’s “ICU” facial analysis product. A statement says that retailers will continue to verify customers’ identities with human intervention, but the ICU technology will “help retailers abide by the law currently in place to prevent alcohol being mis-sold to anyone underage.”
Innovative Technology says the trial is also an opportunity to test industry standards and practical use of the biometrics-based age verification technology approved by the Age Check Certification Scheme (ACCS) in a “small, controlled environment” to better understand the implications.
Andrew O’Brien, ICU product manager, comments, “We are delighted to be accepted into the UK Government Sandbox scheme and see all our hard work undertaken over the past few months come to fruition. Our team have liaised with local licensing authorities, local police officers and local councils to ensure our solution (ICU) is both safe, legal and meets the criteria of the scheme.”
Innovative Technology’s ICU received recognition by the ACCS for its efficacy in May 2021. The ACCS found that ICU underestimates age by only 0.19 years, with a Mean Absolute Error of 1.22 years. To ensure privacy, O’Brien says ICU performs anonymous age estimation completely offline, with no storage of images or data.
The press release also cites the British Retail Consortium’s letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, highlighting a 76 percent rise in abuse to staff during the pandemic, with identity checks as a “trigger point.” O’Brien comments, “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.”
Innovative Technology has showcased its age verification and facial recognition solution as a check against underage gambling at casinos and trialed a facial recognition security system at a school in England earlier this year.