Finger scans can now buy food at university

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Beginning this week, University of North Texas students, faculty and staff can have dining dollars at their fingertips, as Sodexho, the vendor that provides food services in the University Union and several other campus buildings, activates its new iMye payment system that utilizes biometric finger-image technology instead of cash, credit cards or checks.

Using this new state-of-the-art technology, UNT students and other members of the university community can buy meals at Sodexho facilities on the campus and pay for food and services at 20 participating businesses in Denton by touching a finger on a special iMye scanner.

UNT is one of only two campuses in the nation so far (and the only university in Texas) to implement a dining program using this technology. Gonzaga University -- a private university with about 5,400 students in Spokane, Wash. -- is the other.

Chuck Fuller, UNT's assistant vice president for business services, explains that Sodexho selected UNT to premiere the technology because its operations there recorded the highest rate of debit/credit card usage for purchases of any college or university that Sodexho serves.

"iMye is also right in step with the ever-increasing numbers of our UNT students who are comfortable with the advances of new technologies and who like to travel light -- without carrying cash, checks or credit cards," Fuller says. "Participants don't need a card or cash -- all they need is a finger scan."

Ken Botts, who is coordinating the program at UNT for Sodexho, says students, faculty and staff may open an account by signing up at iMye's website (iMye.com).

The next steps involve arranging to place funds in a prepaid spending account and visiting a scanning station to process biometric information through a finger scan.

Each individual's scan is converted into a unique mathematical marker, which is encrypted for security. From that point forward, when a student makes a purchase, the scanner identifies the algorithm that has been registered to align with the student's finger, and the dollar amount is deducted from the established account.

Fuller and Botts both emphasize that the iMye system does not retain a visual image of the finger scan.

If the program is successful, Fuller says, UNT will consider similar technologies in other areas throughout the university, "including access to residence halls, meal plans in residence halls, and libraries."

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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