August 20, 2019 2 min read

Classes haven't started yet and already the lines are long during lunchtime at one of the busiest dining halls on Virginia Tech's campus.

"Virginia Tech serves close to 40-45 thousand meals a day. There's a lot of people moving through this stuff," said university spokesperson Mark Owczarski.

It really is a lot of people and a lot of busy people – people who don't have time for cash trays or debit cards.

Students in Virginia Tech Can Use Biometric Scanner to Pay The Meal

There's now an alternative.

"All I have to do is swipe my hand, wait for the green light, and then skip the line!" said Kassi Schulz, a training specialist at Virginia Tech.

The machine Kassi used is called a biometric scanner. It picks up data points and creates a barcode. That barcode registers with one already in Tech's computer database if you pre-register and have a meal plan.

It's a lot like using the fingerprint scanners built into most smartphones in recent years, except without needing the physical contact.

So with the swipe of your hand, you can pay for your meal.

Students in Virginia Tech Can Use Biometric Scanner to Pay The Meal

"This has actually been in the works for several years and we were able to implement it this year starting in D2 and we're very excited about that. If it works well here, we can move it to other dining halls," said Owczarski.

The most hectic time? Between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.: the time of day when the doughnuts and the drinks are leaving quickly.

"With the influx of people you know on campus, there are going to be a lot more people trying to get, especially in between classes at lunchtime, there are going to be so many people trying to eat," said Kassi.

Students in Virginia Tech Can Use Biometric Scanner to Pay The Meal

A quick approach and a healthy one is what the scanner is all about.

"Every time you touch a card, every time you swipe, hand it to different people? This is touchless. So during cold and flu season? This is going to be another little way to keep our students healthy," said Owczarski.

And it will hopefully keep those lines to a minimum.


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