In 2017, iris recognition devices were installed at the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Ramsey Student Center. Since then, the eye scanners assist with the daily check-in of patrons into the fitness and wellness areas.
Keith Wenrich, the director of Recreational Sports, said the center has a total of four iris recognition devices connected to the department’s InnoSoft Fusion management system.
UGA’s Dining Services department first decided to implement the technology. Wenrich said Recreational Sports saw the opportunity and installed the scanners at the same time.
“We also worked alongside our ID card office to ensure we were in compliance,” said Wenrich. “These scanners have allowed us to gain accurate counts of who is using our facility. The recognition software determines whether the patron is ‘fees paid’ or not and allows our turnstiles to automatically open or deny entry.”
Operations and Benefits
Wenrich said all incoming students are enrolled into this system during their summer orientation sessions when they receive their campus ID cards. This process allows them to enter the facility as soon as they begin their first semester.
Students and other patrons position their face in front of the eye scanner which will then identify them. Wenrich said the iris recognition devices were installed by SRI International, an American nonprofit scientific research institute and organization headquartered in Menlo Park, California.
The iris camera system uses a mathematical analysis of the random patterns within the iris of an eye to verify a person’s identity. In the enrollment stage, the technology captures a digital photographed iris pattern (D-PIP) of a user’s eyes. When a user approaches a turnstile, the iris camera compares the D-PIP at the recognition station for verification.
The system provides accurate authentication from an estimated 10 to 14 inches away and in less than two seconds. The system also works with contacts, eyeglasses and goggles.
“Previously, we had biometric hand scanners,” said Wenrich. “When you average 6,000 to 7,000 patrons a day, those scanners were difficult to keep sanitary and maintain. Fortunately, we made the change prior to COVID-19, or else we would have been forced to change our admissions operations in a more significant way.”
Campus Reaction Advice
While the eye scanners have been a large success at UGA thus far, Wenrich said they were not a hit with everyone at first. However, they now receive little to no complaints about the devices.
“We had a few long-time members who did not want to enroll in this new system,” said Wenrich. “There were some misguided concerns this new process was doing more than just recognizing them as an active member of our facility. For those that are not interested in utilizing this process, we allow them to present their campus ID card for entry into our facility.”
For other departments who may be considering adding similar check-in technology, Wenrich said it’s important to have backup devices ready in case of any malfunctions. Also, it would be ideal to add advanced technology such as eye scanners when other entities on campus are doing the same.
“I would suggest to not be isolated on your campus,” said Wenrich. “It was great to have other areas of the university implementing the technology simultaneously for support and trouble shooting. Another recommendation is to push for having the ability to enroll patrons in your facility if they did not enroll at the main office. Having this feature allows us to provide our patrons with better customer service.”