Carleton considering installing palm readers

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A hand on a biometric palm reader

Jon Purdy

WHAT'S NEXT, HOVER BIKES?. Carleton university is considering implementing biometric palm readers to gain access to residences and athletic facilities. Next thing you know, The Terminator will be serving you sloppy joes in the cafeteria — and he'll shoot you in the face if you ask for seconds.

Carleton University students may be able to access residences and athletic facilities without a student card if plans to install biometric palm readers are approved.

“The idea comes from students forgetting or choosing not to carry their Campus Card,” said Ed Kane, an assistant vice-president of university services at Carleton. “Should a student forget their card when they arrive at the dining hall, they could use the palm reader to gain access.”

The palm readers would measure numerous points users’ hands and grant students access quickly and efficiently, Kane said.

Patrick Watson, president of the Rideau River Residence Association, which represents all students living in Carleton residences, spoke against the program, calling it a “frivolous spending adventure.”

“The palm readers are not in the interests of students and, worse, it will cost the university $30,000,” Watson said.

Though the palm readers could help forgetful students, Watson said funds would be better spent on regular residence maintenance.

Kane said students in residence won’t have to pay for the development and installation of the palm readers. He said the program would improve access to both athletics and dining facilities at no extra cost to students.

Nathan Martin, a second-year international and comparative studies student at Western and a Campus Recreation employee, suggested biometric palm readers could be useful for Western’s athletic facilities.

“Student cards are cheaper and more practical,” Martin said. “But if such a thing were to come to Western, I would use it.”

Still, it’s not certain Carleton students will ever see biometric palm-reading devices implemented.

“We are only investigating the deployment of biometric readers and no firm decisions have been taken,” Kane said.

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