San Diego school board to pilot facial recognition system for students

March 23, 2015 - 

San Diego’s Encinitas Union School District is set to launch a first-of-its-kind pilot program that authenticates students on school-issued iPads with facial recognition, according to a report by Encintas Advocate.

The EUSD board signed a $63,000 contract with Salt Lake City-based cybersecurity firm Virtual Keyring in which it will provide technology to quickly log students into all iPad apps, eliminating the need to remember multiple passwords.

Virtual Keyring claims its software is more secure than even the strongest passwords because the data is not stored on devices, and therefore, it cannot be stolen.

Using an iPad’s built-in camera, the system takes several pictures of an individual, then compares those images against an encrypted image on file to verify the identity of the person.

The software continuously monitors to make sure it is, in fact, the same individual and automatically logs out in the event that the authentication fails.

The new system will ensure that teachers will no longer have to waste a full day at the beginning of the school year to teach students how to input passwords and configure their iPads. It will also drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for teachers to log in.

“One of the things we hear frequently from teachers is that there’s a lot of instructional time lost with kids having to go through the process of actually logging into their various digital tools,” said EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird.

The pilot program will consist of a small group of EUSD students, teachers and administrators testing the program over a period of two weeks to as long as two months.

If the pilot program is successful, Virtual Keyring will launch at one school and then potentially expand districtwide.

There have been a number of privacy concerns from students and parents after school districts throughout the country implemented a fingerprint-based authentication system to monitor student lunch purchases.

Previously announced, K-12 school nutrition technology firm Harris School Nutrition Solutions recently partnered with biometrics identification solutions firm identiMetrics to provide high quality finger scanners, software and services.

Baird addressed potential privacy concerns regarding the Virtual Keyring system by emphasizing that the students’ images could not be stored or shared as all images would be encrypted as algorithms.

The facial recognition will not be mandatory, as students will still be able to log in through Virtual Keyring with a username and password, district officials said.

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.