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Virginia Commonwealth University to introduce iris recognition ID system for dining hall


Virginia Commonwealth University has installed two iris recognition cameras that will allow students with meal plans to access the dining hall this fall, according to a report by University Public Affairs.

The new identification system provides students with a faster alternative option to swiping their ID card students in order to be granted access into Shafer Court Dining Center.

Provided by ColorID, the iCAM 7100 iris cameras are able to capture a high-definition photo of the user’s iris and then identify 220-plus unique points, which generates a number that corresponds to the iris of the meal plan holder.

“Students won’t need their ID to enter the dining center anymore,” said Stephen Barr, the director of campus services who oversees VCU Dining Services. “With iris identification, it’s as simple as a camera taking a picture of their eyes and two seconds later they walk through.”

The new iris cameras will also enable those students who lose their IDs over the weekend to access their meal plans, despite the ID card office being closed.

The dining hall will still have cashiers on hand for those students who decide not to use the iris cameras, as well as for other visitors.

Barr emphasized that the university will not store photos of the irises, but instead, the technology will convert the iris image into a number, similar to an ID number.

VCU will set up stations at Shafer Court and in other locations on campus to register students for the new system during the first couple weeks of the fall semester.

“We’re going to continually improve access to Shafer and see if there are other places [on campus] that we can expand this kind of technology to, as well,” he said.

VCU Dining Services decided to introduce the iris cameras because the technology is reliable and does not require skin contact, Barr said.

Many students are upset about the university’s decision to implement the iris recognition system and have voiced their opposition on the wall of VCU’s Facebook page.

One student wrote, “You know this the same as fingerprinting your student-body right?,” to which the Virginia Commonwealth University replied, “It’s voluntary and the pictures will not be kept.”

Other student comments include, “Creepy and unnecessary tracking of student behavior…”, and “The technology is cool, but is it really necessary to have to raise tuition and school fees to pay for something like this?”

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