By Mike Pomranz
Updated December 11, 2014
Credit: © RubberBall / Alamy

And you thought the NSA was bad. An Italian company has recently released a vending machine that is able to use facial recognition to restrict what customers can purchase.

The Luce X2 Touch TV vending machine, made by Rhea Vendors Group, claims to be the first commercially available vending machine to ever utilize such technology. Using facial recognition does have some fun benefits: the machine can greet you by name and remembers what you like.

But by knowing who you are, the machine can also have more devious applications, restricting what you buy based on your age, medical and dietary restrictions or even your previous purchases. The Telegraph suggests that a school could have the machine cross-reference its student database to restrict the sale of items like cigarettes based on age, or a hospital could keep sugary snacks from being sold to people with diabetes. In the saddest example of all, a gym could program the machine to keep snacks away from members trying to cheat their diets.

The company claims that being part of the database is opt-in. “It’s not as if it’s going to spy on you,” said David Wilson, sales director as Smart Vend Solutions. “It just makes your shopping experience more enjoyable.” But he’s probably being monitored by a group of vending machine overlords, so can we really trust him?

So far, none of these machines have been sold; but, as always, the company claims there is interest.