AI age estimation technology being rolled out in shops after initial trial

A government initiative to expand the use of digital identities in the UK has completed its initial trial phase, meaning AI estimation technology is now being rolled out in pubs and shops across the UK.

Led by the Home Office and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), the trials allowed the supermarkets, bars and nightclubs involved to develop a “regulatory sandbox” for the sale of alcohol, using a variety of age verification and estimation technologies to check the ages of consumers.

Regulatory sandboxes, such as those being developed by the UK’s information commissioner, are test environments that allow software to be trialled in real-life situations under the supervision of regulators or other oversight bodies.

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The government scheme, which ran from February to May 2022, saw Innovative Technology install age estimation hardware, named MyCheckr, within Bestway stores in an effort to reduce the risk of alcohol being accidentally sold to underage shoppers.

The results proved positive, as 70% of staff found the technology guided their age assessment effectively, and 75% believed the presence of the device to deter under-18s from attempting to buy alcohol in the first place.

MyCheckr, the all-in-one device from Innovative Technology, is now also being used to deter underage purchases and support staff in a number of Bestway stores nationwide, as well as in pubs within the North West of England.

Although not included in the initial trial, a number of pubs have now started to utilise MyCheckr to bolster their own age checks.

“The technology is helping to boost staff confidence when asking customers for ID and, of course, anything that ensures we protect children is paramount to us as a responsible business,” head of corporate stores at Bestway Retail, Clive Binks said.

Ken, owner of Liberty’s Gin Bar, explained that younger staff in particular can often find it uncomfortable to ask customers for their ID: “Quite often underage customers will come into the pub, not to buy alcohol initially, but to build relationships with the staff”, he said.

“They then attempt to purchase alcohol when it is more difficult for the server to feel confident declining. MyCheckr gives them more confidence to say no,” he added.

“The feedback from both the trial and the new installations this year has been incredibly positive,” product manager at Innovative Technology, Dr Andrew O’Brien said.

O’Brien explained: “MyCheckr is having an important impact in ensuring safer purchasing and enforcing age-restriction regulations, and we are looking forward to scaling up with more businesses as the year progresses.”

The news comes as Bestway executive Dawood Pervez, son of the firm’s founder, discussed buying Sainsbury’s with Costcutter founder Colin Graves ahead of acquiring a stake in the supermarket last week.

Independent retailersInnovationNews


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