Encourage honesty by verifying age

Washington
26th Sep 2019
Young people are introduced to digital interfaces at an early age, both through their own experiences and from observing others in the world on digital devices. As kids get older, they are excited and expect to interact with the world through online platforms. Age verification is crucial to enable safe access to content on digital platforms.
Product Context

Loco is an image-sharing mobile application that allows people to share images, videos and Augmented Reality (AR) masks directly to friends or into a feed consisting of content from their friends and advertisers.

In order to provide the service, Loco is powered by some of the following data:

  • Facial recognition to verify DOB and to train the Loco algorithm
  • Location services to track your location and provide a record of the places you visit frequently. This data is used to curate content relevant to you.
  • Specialized default settings for teenagers (13-18) that protects sensitive information from the public
  • Educational signposting throughout the app and indicators for teens around settings
  • Ability for people to report suspected underage people based on suspicious activity
  • Account reviews where Loco may restrict accounts belonging to underage people

Problem & Opportunity

A presence online, particularly on social apps, has become a requirement to participating in everyday life and online culture — especially for young people. However, many apps require people to be at least 13 years old in order to access them. There is currently no universal solution to verify their age with ease, which leads to underage kids lying in order to join online communities. This has the potential to expose them to inappropriate content and their experience can’t be protected if the app doesn’t know they are underage.

Applications need to have age verification mechanisms that are accurate and accessible without adult guidance. Loco utilizes multiple levels of age verification — such as age estimation by utilising facial recognition technology — to increase the system’s confidence in the age a person reports.

How might we...

...encourage kids to be honest when self-reporting age?

Design Features
AR facial recognition for age verification

As someone goes through each step when onboarding, the information gathered will play a role in creating a custom AR mask to further incentivize young people to provide information.

The first step to create an account for Loco is an age verification process powered by AR facial recognition technology.

People using the app simply launch the camera in the app and they can then see and scan their face. After their face is analyzed, they see the progress of their custom AR mask being created based on their face scan.

At this point, if a person is identified as clearly over the age of 18, they will skip the next step (school year selection) and proceed directly to the age estimation feature.

facescan
Design Features
School year selection for age verification

After the face scan, Loco asks the person to input what school year (grade or class) they’re currently in. This allows Loco to increase the accuracy of the person’s guessed age while also verifying whether they are being honest when inputting their date of birth in a later step.

Additionally, the person’s school year serves as a point of customization for the AR mask being built.

Gradelevel@2x
Design Features
Age guessing

The age guessing flow is designed as a fun, interactive way to encourage the person to provide honest data, while also incorporating two age verification methods.

Here, Loco reveals the guessed age. If Loco is incorrect, the app asks the person to identify their correct age (in years).

The age guess is another data point to test against the upcoming step (birthday). While these steps can seem repetitive or laborious, the motivation is that each of these steps contributes to a unique aspect of the AR mask.

Loco 1
Design Features
Date of birth as final step

As a final step for age verification, Loco asks the person to put in their birthday. The app is able to test this data against all previously gathered data. If the data does not match up, it will not allow the person to create an account.

When the information is validated and approved against the prior screens, the date of birth will be used to add custom elements to the AR mask.

birthday
Design Features
Custom AR mask

Once the person has verified their age, they will unlock access to a custom AR mask they built in the prior screens.

The mask features customizations based on a person’s facial features, activities relevant to their school year (grade/class), and fun zodiac illustrations reflecting their birthday. It will be stored in their filters for use after account creation is complete.

Mask
Next steps

While the steps for age verification on Loco increase the confidence in accurate age reporting, the selfie feature built with facial recognition technology has requirements that may not be accessible to all young people based on the device they use.