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Feds Creating Facial Recognition App to Track College Classroom Attendance

By The College Fix

January 22, 2015

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A new facial recognition app will make checking attendance faster and easier for college professors.

Missouri University of Science and Technology professor Zhaozheng Yin will develop the app with a $50,000 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. According to the grant, the app will use facial-recognition algorithms to automatically check attendance.

Instructors would take a five- to 10-second video of students with their smartphones before each class. Yin says the app will be especially helpful for tracking attendance in large lecture halls, considering students signing an attendance sheet also can sign the names of classmates who are absent.

A similar new app, Class120, enables parents to monitor their own child's attendance. "Some students need timely supervision to avoid dropping out when they have skipped too many classes or have a low GPA, which will leave a lot of student debt hard to pay," Yin says. "Parents want to protect their investment."

He notes he already has used a version of the app to check attendance in his classes. "I can greet my students to break the ice at the beginning of the class, and my students usually have fun during this process, even making silly faces to challenge my algorithms," Yin says.

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