Budgens pilots biometric check for under-age drinkers

Facial recognition technology has been tested in convenience stores to help stop children buying alcohol and cigarettes.

Facial recognition technology has been tested in convenience stores to help stop children buying alcohol and cigarettes.

The system has been developed for use in convenience stores at the point of sale to capture facial measurements that will be checked against a database of profiles of known offenders.

The system, which has been tested for several months in a Budgens store in London, will alert point of sales if a match is found that the person they are serving is under-age.

The technology is a joint project by facial recognition company OmniPerception and software company Charton that has adapted existing technology to enable convenience stores to help curb under-age drinking and smoking.

It combines OmniPerception's Affinity facial Recognition technology and Charton's point-of-sale software.

David McIntosh, chief executive of OmniPerception, said it will help convenience store owners demonstrate they take a responsible attitude towards serving underage children.

Charlie Willetts, managing director of Charton, said "Until now, combining the many technologies has been virtually impossible, but we have jointly come up with a way of automatically reviewing moving clips that are constantly changing and are now able to use this as part of a bespoke facial recognition system."

Following the pilot testing at Budgens, the developers of the technology are aiming to supply the system to convenience stores throughout the country.

The project, called AgeWatch, comes at a time when the industry is under pressure from the government to clamp down on underage sales.

Prime minister, Gordon Brown, has warned shops that they could have their licences withdrawn as a consequence.

According to figures by the Institute of Alcohol Studies, 10% of drinkers aged 12 to 15 admitted buying their own alcohol in shops, which rose to 63% among those aged 16 to 17.

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