London, May 13 : Need a puff? Start wishing that your baby face swaps itself for a few wrinkles or liver spots, at least if you're a school going kid in Japan, for the Land of the Rising Sun will soon be introducing cigarette vending machines to judge their user's age from their appearance.
The technology has been developed as an effort to have the machines comply with new laws that, from July, requires them to check the age of buyers.
Customers must look into a digital camera attached to the machine. The system will compare facial characteristics, such as wrinkles around the eyes, bone structure and skin sags against a benchmark dataset of more than 100,000 people.
The legal age for smoking in Japan is 20 and the country has about 570,000 tobacco vending machines.
"With face recognition, so long as you have got some change and you are an adult, you can buy cigarettes like before. The problem of minors borrowing (identification) cards to purchase cigarettes could be avoided as well," New Scientists quoted Hajime Yamamoto, a spokesman for Fujitaka Co, which developed the technology, as saying.
Yamamoto said the system could correctly identify about 90 percent of the users, with the remaining 10 percent falling into a "grey zone" of "minors that look older, and baby-faced adults".