Harrison Ford: Spotting The Young From The Old

It might sound a bit like a Tom Cruise movie, but sci-fi technology could soon be identifying for us the difference between real drunks and desperate actors from North Wales…

Harrison Ford, he of Intergalactic fame, snogger of Princess Leia, pilot of the Millennium Falcon and best friend of a wookie, recently found himself being asked for identification when he popped in to an American bar for a swift beer.

The whip-cracking Indiana Jones star is 68, and one of the most recognisable faces on the big screen, but despite this the barman insisted on Ford showing him some ID before he would serve him, citing it as a policy of his company to check everybody because younger people complain about being singled out for ‘carding’.

Of course, it’s well known that in the States bars are hot on checking that they aren’t serving to underage individuals whereas here, in the UK, we seem to be hell-bent on catching out the licensed operators of our bars by using dubious underhand tactics in what appear to be blatant attempts at entrapment.

No sooner had I finished chuckling over my toast last week at the plight of the Death Star destroying hero than I was choking over a story where police in North Wales had used actors to deceive bar staff in an effort to catch them serving alcohol to people who are already drunk.

It is worrying that police forces seem to be spending time and money on these so-called ‘sting operations’.  Deception can be seen, in the eyes of the law, as a form of fraud and in this particular instance, whether they knew it or not, the bar staff were actually serving to sober people being paid out of tax payer money to cheat them in to thinking that they were drunk.

It is questionable as to which side was actually breaking the law.

Nobody should condone illegal acts and I am all in favour of we, as a trade, doing our best to ensure the safety not just of our customers but of those in the community around us.  Chief Inspector Andrew Williams may well be proud of his idea, and I am in no doubt that he feels he was acting in the best interests of his community, but such efforts to hoodwink licensees will simply serve to alienate them rather than encourage them to work with him.

Reading another news story, however, I think the Japanese might have come up with a solution:  they’ve just announced a new vending machine that selects the customer’s drink based upon their age and gender.  It seems that, right now, it’s only capable of offering old men coffee and young women sweet tea, but five machines will be operating within Tokyo’s railway stations this week; 500 are anticipated to be in operation by March 2012.

The machine uses large touch screens and a variety of sensors to determine the characteristics of approaching customers and then makes its suggestion of what they should drink.

The technology may be in its infancy, but it surely can’t be long before we could have scanners alongside our tills that will determine the age and inebriation of approaching customers.

It might even be able to tell the real drunks from the fakes…

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