Operations

All eyes on the future of cameras in foodservice

Biometric payment technologies such as finger and palm scanning are slowly emerging in foodservice operations, including the University of Maryland’s transition last fall. But the future may be leaning toward a more hands-off approach.

George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., was looking to speed up its meal-swiping process alongside a new unlimited dining plan. Iris cameras, which take a photograph of an eye that is converted into data that cannot revert back to a photograph, won out.

Danny Anthes, senior manager of information technology, says two factors stood out in this system: the sanitary benefits of going hands-free, and the speed of the camera, which produces matches “in sub-seconds” and has an accuracy rate above 99%. “We are very confident [students] won’t experience false positives or negatives,” Anthes says.

There were a few glitches. Mason Dining had to move some cameras out of direct sunlight because the glare slows them down. And though they do work with contacts and glasses, they do not work on colored contacts. For those students—and anyone with privacy concerns—the department has retained its ID card swipe system in one POS lane.

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