Photos fool cigarette age-verification software
A Japanese reporter has used family photos and magazine cut-outs to fool face-recognition software currently used in some of the country's cigarette vending machines into selling him smokes.
From July, Japan’s set to introduce tough regulations allowing prosecutions to be brought against vending-machine companies whose dispensers sell tobacco to someone under the country’s legal smoking age of 20.
As a result, numerous Japanese cigarette machines already feature facial verification software that aims to cut-down on sales of smokes to minors. One such system, developed by firm Fujitaka, uses a camera built into the machine to snap a picture of the buyer. Software then analyses the person’s face for age identifiers, such as wrinkles around the eyes and sagging skin.
However, a reporter from one Japanese-language newspaper recently tested one such machine in Osaka and found that the machine sold him cigarettes - based on its analysis of a 6in wide photo of the reporter's 50-year-old father.
The reporter also tried the same method on a machine in Kobe and, worryingly, found that it accepted a 3in-wide magazine photo of a 30-year-old female. A 1in-wide photo of a female in her 30s was rejected by the machine.
Fujitaka has admitted that, on occasion, its software could be fooled by photographs. But underage smokers beware, because the firm’s developing more advanced facial recognition software for its machines.
@Dr Patrick J R Harkin
OK, so now kids will be carrying chairs as well!
The things kids will do for a pack of smokes...
If they don't want to sell to kids...
...couldn't they just fix the machines further up the wall?
Re: If they don't want to sell to kids...
Not advanced enough as kids would start carrying aged mannequins or blowup dolls... :)
Trade routes through smoke filled rooms
This article left me with the impression that it is getting harder for children to buy and therefore smoke cigarettes.
In the city where I live, there seem to be more children and young adults smoking cigarettes than there were this time last last year.
I assume there is now a well developed black market for buying cigarettes. If that sounds cynical, then ask yourself what a cigarette company would do when faced with advertising restrictions. Would they put they feet up and sigh and contemplate halcyon days, or would they get busy developing new distribution and marketing routes / means?
Many smokers buy cigarettes duty-free in bulk or buy them from people who import them by means of an undeclared business.
When people buy cigarettes in bulk, it is less likely that the odd missing packet (or three) will be noticed as missing.
It only takes one child in a class of kids whose parents smoke heavily and who turn a blind eye to the regular disapperance of some of their packets of cigarettes. There is also no shortage of children who are given 'guilt money' by parents. Buying a packet of cigarettes is easy for a child who wanders around with 30 quid or more in their pocket.
And what of the high-tech vending machines? A clear conscience for the tobacco companies? No trouble from politicians? A smoke-screen [sic] for society who will see the machines and then not even wonder at the increase in the young smoking population?
This is not a rant though... and time will tell if I was right. Look for an increase in the number of young smokers, or a change to the way official statistics are processed.