Using data points, rather than an image of the eye, adds layers of security that cannot be reconstructed.
Iris scanners aren't new - military bases and other high-security areas have used them before. But in the last few years civilian institutions have started adopting the technology. For a college campus it could make the old student ID card obsolete, and iris scans are even harder to fake than fingerprints. In fact it probably can't be done, at least not with current technologies.
Winthrop will use the scanners to check people entering an early childhood education school, fulfilling a need to protect the kids inside and ensure that only authorized adults pick them up.
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Child safety might be the driver for bringing iris scanners to schools. A South Dakota company, Blinkspot, makes one for school buses, designed to match kids with the right bus, though it isn't clear that any districts have adopted the technology.
Not everyone is completely happy with that prospect, though. In Polk County, Fla., a school district started its own pilot program to test iris scanners, and the parents reacted badly. The district failed to notify them about the testing and kids came home with stories that must have sounded terribly creepy.