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Facial Recognition Vending Machine Debuts 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-more-candy-for-you-chubby dept.
Peter Hanami writes "Yesterday in Japan, a facial recognition vending machine went on sale that can tell the age of the buyer based on a range of features including number of wrinkles, bone structure and how the skin sits on the face. It was developed as a way to stop minors from buying cigarettes from vending machines. In Japan, cigarette vending machines are a common feature on the street and presently few safeguards exist to stop younger users from purchasing them. This new machine is seen as a positive step to reduce under age smoking. If the machine doesnt deem the buyer to be of suitable age, 20 years old, the buyer must provide further identification such as a drivers licence."
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Facial Recognition Vending Machine Debuts

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  • by Kazrath (822492) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @08:28PM (#21343947)
    This was obviously created in Japan with Japanese in mind. I am curious "out of the box" how it functions against other nationalities who's facial features are significantly different. I would suspect it would be unable to identify the age and require an identification card of some sort.

    Well at least it is a fairly novel idea.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      "and require an identification card of some sort."

      Ah, so you read the summary. Very bold of you, sir.

      FTFS: "the buyer must provide further identification such as a drivers licence."
    • I am curious "out of the box" how it functions against other nationalities who's facial features are significantly different.
      Same way it deals with Japanese facial features. Very poorly.

      Seriously, the difference between "races" is hardly so vast that the algorithms will have to be rewritten from scratch. In fact, they probably won't have to be rewritten at all. Are there really any facial feature that are unique to geographic regions?
      • by piojo (995934)

        Seriously, the difference between "races" is hardly so vast that the algorithms will have to be rewritten from scratch. In fact, they probably won't have to be rewritten at all. Are there really any facial feature that are unique to geographic regions?

        Are you kidding? My Vietnamese girlfriend always jokingly asks me why all Westerners look so old, and I ask her why all Asians are so small (or why they look so young). If the algorithm isn't a learning one, it absolutely will not succeed at this task. I witnessed the introduction of an Israeli girl and a Japanese woman. The Israeli asked in English, "How old are you?", and the Japanese woman said, "Thirty." My Israeli friend said, "No, you couldn't possibly be thirteen..." She misheard, because this woman

        • by megaditto (982598)
          Apparently the age thing is handled differently over there. Old people get lots of respect and admiration, so much so in fact, that many will exaggerate their age.

          Also, telling a middle-aged person that they look young is like calling them a 'nO0b' -- not a good thing (or so I am told).

          In light of this, these smokes machines might be little more than a clever marketing ploy to appeal to the younger smokers.
      • by badasscat (563442)
        Seriously, the difference between "races" is hardly so vast that the algorithms will have to be rewritten from scratch. In fact, they probably won't have to be rewritten at all. Are there really any facial feature that are unique to geographic regions?

        First of all, are you really so PC that you need to put "races" in quotes, as if you doubt the fact that different races even exist?

        Second, while it may not be politically correct to say, it's pretty obvious that there are visual differences between races. Mo
  • by Nyktos (198946) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @08:28PM (#21343957)
    If it's that good, why don't they just require standard government ID and use the face recognizer to determine if the buyer is the person on the ID and let the ID provide the age?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QuantumG (50515)
      That does sound a lot more sensible.

      I guess you haven't figured out how to think like the Japanese yet.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      Mod points to parent of this.

      Then again, I'm not versed in the law in Japan. Perhaps they have laws preventing the use of the ID in this manner (unlike how the US SSN was only (broken) promised to be used for limited government purposes), and others preventing industry from providing its own IDs for use with their devices (i.e. a card for use in certain brands of cigarette vending machines, a card for use in certain brands of alcohol vending machines, a card for use in certain brands of pornography vending
    • by ackthpt (218170) *

      If it's that good, why don't they just require standard government ID and use the face recognizer to determine if the buyer is the person on the ID and let the ID provide the age?

      Perhaps they should just use a fingerprint analyser ...

      • or Blood tester (Give blood - Smoke!)
      • or LungCam (hai! As dark as a pint of Sapporo Black!
      • or Manga-reflex (If your pupils dialate at this then you are under 21)
    • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:11PM (#21344347) Homepage Journal
      Because you might not want the information that you buy cigarettes to enter a database? (Which could, for example, be used to deny health insurance later.)
      Or you believe in the right to be anonymous and not have a government issued ID card?
    • If it's that good, why don't they just require standard government ID and use the face recognizer to determine if the buyer is the person on the ID and let the ID provide the age?

      How often am I supposed to go in for a new picture / have new facial recognition meta info encoded onto this card? My drivers license is good for 5 years, and I'm now 44 years old. At 49 will I look enough the same?

      This technology has potential for AI programming for robots and such, but should only be used as a "one of many" inp

      • by davidsyes (765062)
        Depends on DNA, culture, and personal habits.

        I have many friends of various Asian backgrounds. The ones who REALLY look young but are not under 30 are those who don't smoke, drink, or stress out heavily. I don't know about drugs, but I imagine some drugs will burn out your system, and in combination with the other 3 factors and others can mess up looks.

        My housemate seems to take EXTREMELY hot showers. The water must be over 130, way hotter than I'm using. It's scalding to me. I don't know how old he is, but
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mpcooke3 (306161)
      Maybe the Japanese government doesn't want to invest billions in a civil liberty infringing national ID card scheme when they know it wouldn't actually stop kids buying cigarettes?
    • by timeOday (582209)

      why don't they just require standard government ID and use the face recognizer to determine if the buyer is the person on the ID and let the ID provide the age?

      Because that wouldn't increase the convenience of the machine at all vs. just requiring an ID card. I guess you are viewing this as a security mechanism, but the people making them apparently think there's a better market as a convenience mechanism. Based on this, I would guess that Japan's attitude about under-age smoking is less strict than her

  • I'm all for new technology making things easier, but in this case why not just require ID for everyone purchasing instead of using it as a backup to a much more complicated solution?
    • Yeah, I'm a programmer so I agree that you put the most accurate system up front and the less accurate one as a backup. And reading someone's license allows you to, I assume, extensively test if it's fake. Plus then you read an exact date of birth and tada. Reading someone's face and matching it to a photo of their face is ridiculously hard let alone trying to guess their age from it. I know some 7th graders that look older than I currently do and I'm 20. Full beard and 6' height and everything. It's
      • by davidsyes (765062)
        "I know some 7th graders that look older than I currently do and I'm 20. Full beard and 6' height and everything."

        What the hell? Did they work on farms, and get exposed to too many steroids? I mean, I have heard that some pre-teen farm girls have adult-sized breasts and even midnight shadows. Things are out of hand even more...
    • Honne and Tatemae (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CB-in-Tokyo (692617) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:17PM (#21344399) Homepage
      Well here is the Honne and the Tatemae (The real thing and the appearance or facade) of Japanese culture at work.

      It is not about actually preventing minors from purchasing cigarettes, it about making the appearance of doing so. By making the appearance of oing so, these vending machines will continue to be allowed, and it may even stop them from being "turned off" at 11:00 PM as they are now. It may also allow Beer vending machines to make a comeback (they are still here, but in far fewer quantities than they used to be.)

      Japan is about image, and showing that you are respecting the group consensus. Japan is not about actually making something foolproof.
      • Re:Honne and Tatemae (Score:4, Interesting)

        by rabiddeity (941737) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @10:06PM (#21344799) Homepage

        Japan is about image, and showing that you are respecting the group consensus. Japan is not about actually making something foolproof.

        See also the new foreigner fingerprinting measures [google.com] going into effect this month. The fingerprinting and storage of those fingerprints has nothing to do with preventing terrorist attacks. It's about presenting an image to reactionary domestic groups and to the United States. The fact that it's going to have a negative impact on their tourist industry hasn't hit them for some reason. Japan has security theater down to an art form.

        • Oh God, don't get me started on that! That is going to be a total pain in the ass for us foreigners who live here and have to travel all the time.

          The Honne: Terror bad! We make you safe. Safe equals happy, we love you!

          Tatemae: Must fingerprint foreign Devils.

          Here is a video the Japanese government have put together about this which is worth the watch simply because it is so stupid it is funny.

          http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/common/moviechk.php?p=1203&d=0&t=110&b=0&m=1&r=2 [gov-online.go.jp]

          The real purpose o
          • by MORB (793798)
            Doesn't the US fingerprint foreigners too? I know I was fingerprinted a couple years ago when I came for vacation, but I don't know if it's systematic or if every state does it.
          • by davidsyes (765062)
            Are US military personnel stationed there required to submit, or are they considered to be on government business?

            How about sailors whose ships are making visits (not mariners, but sailors/soldiers/personnel of military units)?

            If they would ID US military personnel, then they can screen them EVERY time the ship enters port. This would make it easy to weed out undercover operatives, known offenders who got off easily under the Status of Forces agreement, and so on. This way, BANNING would have TEETH.

            But, als
  • Why not just have people use their driver's license every time?

    Wouldn't the comparatively simple low tech solution be better? Wouldn't even older smokers rather have a reliable system that one that's probably going to deny them cigarettes when it misreads their faces?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Deny... me... my... cigarettes?!

      Kamikaze the machine!
    • by tubapro12 (896596)
      Well, from an American viewpoint (which may or may not apply in Japan), inserting one's driver's license/other photo ID into a machine might seem like a potential identity security breach. But <caesura /> where are there not potential security breaches in today's world?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      Why not just have people use their driver's license every time?

      A lot of people in Japan don't have driver's licences.

      Anyway, the whole idea is to make the transaction quick and not require the purchaser to find a card. It's an initiative by the cigarette machine makers to make their machines more acceptable, not by the government to reduce cigarette smoking by youngsters.

    • I don't know what the situation is like in Japan, but in many countries most people don't have driver's licenses -- moreso in places of high population density.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by JanneM (7445)
      Why not just have people use their driver's license every time?

      Because a lot of people don't have driver's licenses here, and thus there is no standard ID card to read, nor is there any requirement that you actually own one. A fair amount of people will actually use their bankbook or similar document, and for signatures you'd use a hanko.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @08:34PM (#21344027) Homepage
    How come no matter what button I push this damn vending machine keeps spitting out Clearasil?!
  • They've already got those [nytimes.com]. Heck, these vending machines can even run away [reuters.com].
  • Beheadings at all time high!

  • by Matt Perry (793115) <perry.matt54 @ y a h o o . c om> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @08:42PM (#21344137)
    So some kid takes a picture of his grandfather's face, prints it out on his color printer, and then holds the printout up in front of the camera. I wonder if the software will realize whether it's looking at a real face or not.
    • by BlueTrin (683373)
      I do not know about this device, but if I was in charge to make one, I would add some feature to check the depth, so the wrinkles would be detected by refraction not by looking at the picture, or even better you could try to match the surface to the picture.
    • by ross.w (87751)
      You need one of these [resultspage.com].
  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @08:55PM (#21344221)
    No, not for the vending machines, but so that blind-drunk guys can get a machines 'expert opinion' as to whether their prospective, er, 'date' is under age or not...
    • if (girl.isOldEnough())
        displayApprovalDialog(girl.name);
      else
        whyDontYouHaveASeatOverThere(user.name);

      //I'm pretty sure I violated Obscure Coding Rule #655360 but whatever
  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by djupedal (584558) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:02PM (#21344271)
    I can recall when vending machines in Japan sold cigarettes, coffee, beer, condoms & pantyhose...all out of the same machine. As Slim would say "That's a goddamn 3 day vacation in Las Vegas".

    Some of the beer machines would power off at a certain time to try to discourage street drunks.

    When asked what kept under age drinkers from using the beer vending machines, the locals would reply "well, they just don't..."

    Certain enterprising business men would pay the local high school girls for used underwear. Then they would shrinkwrap them, along with a signed Polaroid and put them into those arcade 'claw' machines. Had a thriving business until the neighborhood moms began wondering why their daughters were always asking for new Hello Kitty undies. The moms went to the cops. The cops were stumped, at first, as they had a hard time finding a specific law on the books that the pre-owned-panty vendors were breaking.

    Finally, the cops decided to apply an antiques law that says you have to be licensed accordingly for the sale of certain 'used' or aged goods. No permit to sell antiques? Come with us...you're under arrest - and don't forget the evidence :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kryzx (178628) *
      Parent post makes me think we need a "+1 Off-Topic" mod.
      • Parent post makes me think we need a "+1 Off-Topic" mod.

        Perhaps "+1 Better Topic" would be more appropriate? "Off-Topic" has a somewhat negative connotation. Also, it would go well with the proposed "-1 Too Informative" mod.

    • Certain enterprising business men would pay the local high school girls for used underwear. Then they would shrinkwrap them, along with a signed Polaroid and put them into those arcade 'claw' machines. Had a thriving business until...

      You mean they finally figured out what the "???" is in the Southpark Profit cliche?:

            1. Collect Underpants
            2. ???
            3. Profit

      Those clever Japanese.
  • "Are you saying I'm fat?" breeds a whole new meaning.
  • Whats next? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Matt867 (1184557) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:31PM (#21344495)
    Whats next? A machine that calculates your weight based on a picture it takes of you and if it deems you obese refuses to sell you a coke?
    • by geekoid (135745)
      If weight becomes a legal factor in buying a soda, then yes.

    • They don't need a picture, just a weight sensor on the floor.

      Fortunately, this will transfer huge amounts of money to thin people. The thin people will commit straw purchases so others may receive more food.
  • what prevents a kid from fashioning a mask (aka: buying cigs 'halloween style') that resembles an older person and then buying the cigs from the machine?

  • Don't most people who smoke look alot older than they are anyways ?

    When I was a kid & smoked, all my friends & I looked older than we actually were because we'd started smoking when we were about 13.
    • by Khyber (864651)
      Yup. I'm 25 and I look damn-near 35 thanks to smoking.

      A plus, though. I can attract most any hot MILF within seconds (always fun to screw with the other guys.) Minus? I'm gay, so it doesn't really affect me (even more fun, they know I'm gay and they still can't get the girl from me.)
      • by Joebert (946227)
        It's payback for when the guys slapped eachothers asses & said "Good Game !" on the way to the shower during college isn't it ?
      • by davidsyes (765062)
        Why is that a minus? And, if the girls cling to you instead of their B/F, then until you prove yourself a problem, then maybe they like u just 'cuz their so-called b/f had that karma coming...

        Drink lots of green or other herbal teas, cut the smoking, de-tox in some safe way, and smile a lot. Eat lots of kimchee, other anti-oxidants, and have regular bowel movements. Avoid fighting with the wife or wives, and avoid any work requiring your knees today. Take it easy and shake it easy.
  • by psoriac (81188) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:39PM (#21344573)
    As far as I can tell, Japanese women between the ages of 14 and 32 all look the same age.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Zephyr14z (907494)
      How did an obviously racist comment get modded +3 informative? Funny, maybe, but informative?
      • by GiMP (10923) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @02:45AM (#21346735)
        It is not racist for someone to be unable to visually determine some else's age. Neither is it racist for someone to be unable to tell two people apart (eh, "all asians look the same to me"). If he was blind and he said, "all asians, blacks, and whites look the same to me", would that be an issue? No, it would be the truth, because to a blind person, they do look the same. Someone with an untrained eye is nearly as incapable as a blind person at facial pattern recognition.

        The whole "you're being racist" thing itself is racism, making an assumption that the other person might be racist just because the other person isn't of your race, is racist. If the parent post was asian, but adopted by a white family without contact with other asians, and said, "I cannot tell two asians apart", would it still be racist?

        Facial pattern recognition is a learned ability, and each race has a unique set of facial patterns. You cannot expect someone that has had minimal contact with people outside their own race to be able to detect these differences.

        I think the only reason that people get offended because they hear someone say, "<race> all look alike" is because people dislike being grouped by their race, even if there is no ill-will meant. If you're going to be upset by this, you shouldn't stop there. Tell doctors to stop testing black people for Sickle Cell Anemia, because it is racist for them to think that the decease could possibly be more prevalent in those with a particular heritage or skin color -- after all, "race is only skin deep", right? Oh, thats right, those people would rather be healthy than complain that they're being singled out for screenings based on their race.

        The truth is that different races have different physical attributes which can cause certain challenges for those not intimately familiar with those differences; be it facial recognition to recognize someone's age or sex, or be it differences that affect a medical practitioner's ability to save a life.
        • by gaspyy (514539)
          Your post does show common sense - but don't you know that common sense is in short supply?

          Nowadays, at least in US, any remark toward race is considered racist, even if meant in a good way. I recall how a private remark from Schwarzenegger last year or so made headlines because he had said:

          "She maybe is Puerto Rican or the same thing as Cuban. I mean, they are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it."

          Stereotyping? Y

      • As westerners our ideas of what happens to make a face look young (I can't speak for other cultures) just happens to be abundant in asian faces. A western female face, perhaps because we are more familiar with it, will develop quickly from that of a young a girl, to that of a mature woman, install a program like poser and see for yourselve how a subtle shifting of the facial lines can make a character leap through the years.

        An adult face, even in a female is more lined, more pronounced, asian faces, by the

  • vending machine [wikia.com] gives face to you!
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:59PM (#21344751) Journal
    Put a Vending Machine with masks of old people in it next to it. Intelligent kids can buy cigs for their friends and make a profit too. Everyone wins.
  • Separate from how accurate it is under normal circumstances, I wonder:
    • Could you hold a photograph over your face and fool it?
    • Could a wee bit of make up (dark lines along particular areas) change its opinion of where your bones are?
  • While I admire the technical feat, a more effective way from a business standpoint to do it would be to outsource the facial inspection via internet to some cheap 3rd-world country. They don't even have to speak Japanese.

    A big advantage of that approach is that you don't have to invest in a lot up front. You set up a small outsourced shop in Timbuktu and if the concept works, you hire more staff. The software approach requires a lot of big money up front. Physical staff can also study body movement and othe
    • by davidsyes (765062)
      Until some kid plays Poltergeist lady with, "Don't go into the light..." or pulls a Spock with:

      "They've-Locked-Onto-My-Tricoder! Brilliant in their methods."

      What if the subject produces an androgynous voice. Will the machine say, "SINNER! YOU ARE *not* OF THE BODY! *LANDRU* hELP ME... LANDRU..."?, then start rocking and smoking? (Or, locking and (like the sign I saw in Shibuya in Christmas of 04), "Smorking"?)
  • ... Facial Recognition Voting Machine Debuts
  • I'm sorry Dave, I Cannot do that. Daisy, Dai...

  • What's to stop me from holding up a picture of an old man, photoshopped onto the background of my surrounds?
  • Clinics that had been doing a brisk business in Botox injections report a baffling decline in business among their smoking customers, a group more inclined to early wrinkling than non-smokers.
  • Finally little Timmy-san can be the most popular guy in class!

    Progeria [wikipedia.org].

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