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December 11, 2006

Biometrics & the Next Generation Cafeteria

By Stefania Viscusi, TMCnet Assistant Editor

Trying to calm and satisfy a cafeteria full of hungry kids can be a daunting challenge for any school system. Aside from new nutritional restrictions and guidelines, there has always been a need to make the process more efficient for school staff, food suppliers and parents alike.

Now thanks to biometric capabilities, the next generation cafeteria will soon become a reality. Instead of trying to manage long lunch lines of children scrambling to get a meal, PCS Revenue Control Systems, Inc., provider of point of sale (POS) systems and voice biometrics company, CellMax Systems Inc., are making payment and management of school lunch a more efficient process via their joint voice recognition-based identification, verification and payment system designed specifically for the school lunchroom environment.
For the system, CellMax's voice biometric technology, VioMetrics, is integrated into PCS POS cardless ID products to make payment and management of the meals children are getting easier for not only the cafeteria staff but for food distributors, and parents as well.
According to a news release, the PCS system is one of the eight USDA- approved software programs for Nutrient Standard Meal Planning (NSMP) to aid in the health of growing children.
With the PCS offering, schools and distributors are able to better track accountability of food consumption and food preferences, therefore better serving student's needs.
Students simply say their name and student number and their account is immediately charged for their meals, allowing them to quickly move through the lunch line and get back to the table to eat. This will save schools time spent trying to keep youngsters orderly as they move through the lines.
Because the system was designed specifically for the school cafeteria environment, it is also able to recognize voices over loud background noise and changes in voice that could be used for unauthorized access.
As with other areas where biometrics provide benefit, utilizing them in the school cafeterias replaces the need to remember passwords, or carry around swipe cards which can easily be lost, forgotten or stolen.
"Our technology filters out background noise. If a child or parent is phoning in, it can support and authenticate over landline, VoIP and we've even managed to overcome cell phone distortion. It also 'learns' constantly, adapting to gradual voiceprint changes and even dramatic ones, like adolescents voice breaking," commented Ziv Barzilay, CTO, CellMax Systems in a statement.
The companies also noted plans to distribute the system in Latin America and Asia following initial rollout in the United States in July 2007.
Stefania Viscusi is an established writer and avid reader. To see more of her articles, please visit Stefania Viscusi’s columnist page.

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