Monday, May 19, 2008

"Cigarette Machines May Get Face Scanners"

Want to buy tobacco? Look into the mirror to begin age verification. Caution: Looking young may prevent you from smoking.

The Finance Ministry may install automatic age-verification devices on all cigarette vending machines in addition to the identity card readers that are due to be fitted to all such machines by July, sources said.

A complicated application procedure means relatively few smokers have applied for the new Taspo ID cards, which carry a photo of the bearer and proof of his or her age.

Push the button for face scanning to begin. Continue to look deeply into the mirror.

But Fujitaka Co., a vending machine maker of Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture, has developed a scanner that can estimate a person's age in about three seconds based on the size and number of wrinkles and pouches around the eyes and mouth. The device uses a digital camera and is built into the vending machines. Customers simply press a button to get the device to check their age.

According to the company, the scanner is about 90 percent accurate. People who are only just over 20, the legal smoking age, or whose age is difficult to verify through facial features can insert their driver's license into the device instead.

Congratulations. You have the necessary bone structure, sags and crow's feet to be eligible to buy tobacco. Now insert money here.

About 1,500 such scanners are in use on a trial basis in 21 prefectures in the Tohoku and Kyushu regions, where the Taspo cards were introduced May 1.

The Finance Ministry has allowed cigarette buyers to use their driver's license as an alternative to the Taspo card to prove their age.

A ministry official said, "We'll make a decision on the validity of facial age-verification technology after looking into whether it can reliably prevent minors from purchasing cigarettes."

Story from The Daily Yomiuri Online, May 19, 2008.

Images borrowed from Fujitaka web page.

Bolded sarcasm courtesy of VAOJ.

See the story, Japanese smokers to face age test, at the BBC web site as reported on May 12, 2008.

Is this more weird Japan? Why is the government trying to make it so easy for people of legal age to buy tobacco? You can insert the special TASPO card, your driver's license, and now your face. The Japanese government owns 50% Of Japan Tobacco, the "Japanese government monopoly corporation for domestic tobacco sales. Also active in pharmaceuticals and food." I wonder why there has been no discussion of such age verification for alcohol and other adult-oriented vending machines?


Anonymous said...

Did you notice the name of the Fujitaka spokesman?

visual gonthros said...

Ha ha ha... Who is this? Do I know you? Is this what it took for you to finally leave a comment?