Story from Japan Today, 4/3/15:
For a country that doesn’t have any businesses officially classified as “casinos,” Japan has a ton of places to gamble. By far the most common are pachinko parlors, which you can find within a short walk of just about every major train station in Tokyo and Japan’s other large cities.
But with so many places to gamble, and many of them allowing customers to purchase the balls used to play for as little as one yen (less than a penny) each, it’s easy to get sucked into the siren song of the pachinko parlor. Seeking to help gamblers keep their wagers within their limits, one company is now proposing using facial recognition software to inform you, or your family, when you’re gambling too much.
At this year’s Pachinko and Pachislot Innovation Fair, held at Tokyo’s Big Sight convention center, pachinko equipment manufacturers showed off their newest products and ideas. One exhibitor, Omron Amusement, was there to talk about its innovative way of utilizing facial recognition software.
As information technology becomes more precise and cost-effective, many pachinko parlors have been installing facial recognition software and cameras, which serve a two-fold purpose. While most pachinko parlors are respectable, safe centers of entertainment for adults, they do sometimes attract certain seedy elements, and facial recognition systems can be useful in identifying and tracking criminals and unruly visitors. Facial recognition software is also used in business research to help pachinko parlor operators analyze which customer demographics are the most profitable.
But Omron Amusement’s idea isn’t about accelerating the pace in which gamblers leave their cash behind, but instead figuring out when it’d be better to put the brakes on it. The company’s proposal would work with Ma:sus, a facial recognition system already installed in many pachinko parlors. Omron says an individual gambler could register his face with the system, which would recognize him as he enters the parlor. From there, it’s a simple matter to calculate the frequency and length of the gambler’s visits.
The key to the system, though, is also registering the individual’s email address. Once that’s done, the system will automatically send a warning email cautioning against spending too much time at the pachinko parlor if the gambler goes over designated limits. Omron says it could have the system ready for interested businesses within the year.
Of course, many addicts, regardless of what their particular vice is, are under the impression that they could stop any time they want to. As such, it doesn’t seem like sending an email to Mr. Tanaka saying, “You’ve been at the pachinko parlor every day this week,” is going to stop him if he really does have a gambling problem. That’s why Omron says the system could also be configured to send the warning email to the gambler’s family members, instead.