Monday, March 16, 2009

You Say You Are How Old?

In Japan it recently became illegal to sell tobacco from vending machines without verifying that customers are at least 20 years old. Fujitaka, a maker of vending machines in Kyoto, promptly devised a solution: it built dispensers with artificial vision. Fujitaka’s new machines refuse to sell cigarettes if their software detects plumpness in the skin (a tell-tale sign of adolescence) around a potential customer’s eyes. Tests show that the system is slightly better at estimating people’s ages than nightclub bouncers are. Ray Chiang of Fujitaka says sales surged after the government certified the technique last year.
I am sure there is one kid in every class whose plumpness in eye skin is low enough at age 13 to beat the sensor. You know, like the kid who had the full beard at age 16. Thanks to the new artificial vision, that kid gets to be the hook-up for all of his underage smoking buddies. Of course when the police catch on to his little game, he better be prepared with one of these disguises.

via The Economist

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