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It's All in the Wrist

Pilot project at Mohawk College places a contactless reader chip embedded in traditional campus cards into a silicone wristband.

At Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, they are paying for their food with just a flick of the wrist. This past spring, the school was the pilot site for a product called UBand that places the contactless reader chip embedded in traditional campus cards into a silicone wristband.

“It’s much more convenient,” says Troy Heath, Mohawk’s executive director of business development and retail. “Because you wear it on your wrist, you are much less likely to forget to have it on you.”

Heath says that is especially the case with Mohawk’s brand new controlled-access campus recreation center, where students going to work out are more likely to forget to bring a wallet or purse.

Mohawk volunteered to conduct the UBand pilot for vendor IDenticard. It was launched in January with a dozen staffers and six students, two of them resident and four commuters.

Mohawk is a public college with an enrollment of 14,500 full-time and 35,000 part-time students. There is a small residential population of 340.

The UBands work at all the same places as Mohawk’s traditional one-card and uses the same POS readers. It’s just that instead of retrieving a card from a purse or wallet, one simply flashes the wristband near the contactless reader to complete a transaction, enter a controlled access building or pay for a printer. It can be used at some 20 campus dining locations and four retail outlets like the bookstore and c-stores.

This fall, Mohawk’s 340 resident students will all get a UBand and the product will be available for purchase at campus c-stores for non-residents and staff at a price yet to be determined. It is decorated with the school’s logo.
Heath expects them to be popular.

“They definitely caught students’ attention when they were used,” he says. “One of our staff would regularly get her coffee and just swipe her wrist at the reader on the way out. Students called her Inspector Gadget.”

The interest is also coming from other institutions. Mohawk recently hosted a one-card symposium at which 18 other post-secondary institutions from across Ontario attended. Demonstrations of the UBand were a highlight.

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