Aldi Tests Age Estimation Tech for Restricted Products

Tech firm Yoti claims there is a 0.05% probability of a 17-year-old bypassing the system.

January 28, 2022

Aldi Shop and Go Store

LONDON—Aldi’s checkout-free store in London is utilizing age estimation technology for age-restricted products, reports Design Taxi.

The technology relies on a machine-learning algorithm to scan photos of faces to learn their age, but it differs from facial recognition technology because as soon as the system completes the process, it immediately deletes the images and forgets them.

The technology comes from digital identity firm Yoti, who says that its age assessment tool is more accurate than human verification. Its average accuracy is 2.2 years, and it claims that there is a 0.05% probability of a 17-year-old bypassing the system.

TruAge, the new digital ID verification solution from NACS and Conexxus, doesn’t stray into biometric or AI arenas, says Gray Taylor, executive director, Conexxus. Instead, “TruAge leverages the power of the 50+ million per day verifications the convenience channel does,” Taylor said. “We do it as a nonprofit cooperative service. We believe you shouldn’t give up your identity to buy a beer!”

Aldi is testing Yoti’s technology at a London grocery store through May. Employees still will verify age if the customer prefers.

Although different than age estimation, biometric screening to automate processes is on the rise in U.S. airports. Many of the latest biometric developments use facial recognition, which is 99.5% accurate.

However, privacy remains a major concern for biometric screening. Companies that use the technology say they do not retain information, such as images in facial recognition programs, so the companies largely rely on willing travelers who agree to their use. A 2021 passenger survey by the International Air Transport Association found that 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes, up from 46% in 2019.

NACS Daily reported in July that more than 30 advocacy organizations started a campaign to get retailers to halt usage of facial recognition technology or to agree not to use it. Target, Walmart, Home Depot and Kroger are among the chains agreeing not to rely on facial recognition software. Stores using the technology include Albertson’s, Apple and Macy’s, although these chains say it’s only used to stop fraud and increase security.