A set of smart vending machines at the University of Waterloo is expected to be removed from campus after students raised privacy concerns about their software.

The machines have M&M artwork on them and sell chocolate and other candy. They are located throughout campus, including in the Modern Languages building and Hagey Hall.

Earlier this month, a student noticed an error message on one of the machines in the Modern Languages building. It appeared to indicate there was a problem with a facial recognition application.

“We wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for the application error. There’s no warning here,” said River Stanley, a fourth-year student, who investigated the machines for an article in the university publication, mathNEWS.

  • @jqubed
    123 months ago

    In a choice between thinking that a vending machine company put facial recognition technology into a vending machine or prankster students hacked the device to display a suspicious error message I would suspect the latter is the case.

    However, watching the video and looking at the brochures on the manufacturer’s website, it looks like the manufacturer did indeed put rudimentary facial recognition in so they could gather demographic information on their customers like gender and approximate age for marketing purposes. Maybe the hole was damaged by curious students?