WSU introduces biometric scanners

Finger scans could replace Cougar Cards around campus


LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen

Craig Howard, WSU director of administrative services information systems, shows how a phone can be used instead of a Cougarcard.

LINH NGUYEN, Evergreen reporter

WSU introduced the MorphoWave Tower, a biometric fingerprint identifier that grants access to certain buildings though a simple wave of a hand.

Inspired by the University of Maryland’s use of the MorphoWave Tower at their campus dining halls, WSU’s Cougar Card Center has collaborated with University Recreation to test the biometric reader as a pilot program in the Student Recreation Center.

The MorphoWave Tower works by capturing a set of points on one’s fingerprints when swiped through. The biometric identifier then turns these points into an algorithm, representing fingerprints through an array of numbers. The identifier finally goes back to the official Morpho system to determine if the numbers match their system, declaring one’s access to a building or not.

Craig Howard, director of Administrative Services information systems, said the new system was quick and efficient and most likely safer. He said the set of points and numbers that represent fingerprints are an unusable series of dots that cannot be tied to an individual’s identity.

In addition to the MorphoWave Tower, the pilot program also includes two enrollment stations that are moved around, with one primarily in the SRC, and the other placed around campus as needed. These portable stations are used with laptops installed with a specialized program that identifies students.

The program costs approximately $35,000 and was divided equally between the Cougar Card Center and UREC.

Director of UREC Programming Joanne Greene has received positive feedback since the pilot program started about a month ago. Greene said the biometric reader is a convenient option for students with applications that could potentially be used on a broader scale.

With over 3,000 students signed up during this year’s Summer Alive! Session, the number of users continues to grow. Jessa Magbanua, who has been a front desk clerk at the Student Recreation Center for a year now, said she had signed up for the pilot program and enjoys the service.

A WSU student and regular at the SRC, Austin Schort, also prefers the MorphoWave to carrying around a Cougar Card. He said that the biometric reader was very useful and convenient.

This program is open to all students and faculty at WSU, along with community members of Pullman. To sign up for the MorphoWave pilot program, individuals can ask the front desk clerk at the SRC to join.