Campus ID News
Card, mobile credential, payment and security
Atrium Zippin

Atrium to bring checkout-free dining to campus

CampusIDNews Staff   ||   May 31, 2022  ||   ,

Campus card system vendor, Atrium, has teamed with retail technology vendor Zippin on a push designed to bring checkout-free meals, grocery shopping and retail to colleges and universities. The concept is similar to what Amazon is doing with its own grocery stores.

As grocery shopping becomes more automated across the country, Atrium, provider of mobile card management services to colleges and universities, plans to bring checkout-free retail to campuses.

They have teamed with Zippin, developer of the machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensor technology needed for checkout-free transactions, to deploy those systems to campus dining halls and retail operations.

Zippin founders have worked at Amazon and other to deploy similar technology. Amazon is by most accounts the leader of checkout-free grocery shopping, a cutting-edge area of commerce and technology that is receiving increased interest from investors, store operators and consumers — and now, through this new partnership, to campuses.

Beyond campus self-checkout

Unlike mere self-checkout – which requires shoppers to stop at unmanned but often supervised kiosks to complete transactions before leaving a store – checkout-free retail does away with that final step, ideally eliminating lines and waiting altogether, making shopping more efficient.

Such retail technology appeals especially to college students, says David McQuillin, co-founder and VP of sales for Atrium, in a recent interview with CampusIDNews. “Gen Z wants it. It’s what they expect. They want to use their mobile phone for everything.”

The concept that Atrium and Zippin are touting is simple enough, even though in practice it can present challenges. Campus administrators need to think about those potential hurdles sooner rather than later if they want to tap into this technology, which, McQuillian notes, could help them deal with a lack of workers.

Campus checkout process

Consumers using this particular technology could set up links with the platform via mobile phones. Zippin supports such payment options as credit and debit cards, and Apple Pay and Google Pay, though students would also be able to pay via their campus card accounts.

“Retailers with the technology would use overheard cameras to track shoppers and smart shelf sensors that detect when specific items are removed or returned,” explains McQuillin. “Together, the system builds a virtual cart for a shopper and does so without storing personal data, which would risk privacy breaches.”

“We see it working in a mixed retail environment, including ready-made foods and coffee with coffee machines, not just dry goods,” McQuillin says. The goal is to let shoppers leave the store as the transaction processes automatically.

Meal exchange challenge

The student who wants to eat a meal or purchase a product would set up their desired default payment type, and they could also use the system for meal exchanges, he says.

In fact, setting up those campus meal exchange programs as part of the checkout-free experience stands as perhaps the main challenge.

“There is a lot more to this than the typical integration of the mobile ordering experience,” he says. “Meal exchange is definitely the more complicated part of it.”

Atrium and Zippin — much like Amazon and other players in this space — know that the “cool factor,” as McQuillin put it, provides a big part of the appeal of this type of campus technology. But the ongoing struggle of many institutions to find and retain workers during the ongoing nationwide labor shortage also promises to help Atrium and its partner sell colleges and universities on this plan for checkout-free commerce.

“This has real advantages for those institutions,” says McQuillin.

Campus checkout installation

Affixing a cost to this technology is not easy and will vary according to the square footage of the space in question.

According to McQuillin, Zippin will provide the equipment and service, with installation left to the college or university, or its food service provider. Using this type of checkout-free technology on campus will also incur a recurring operational cost via a software-as-a-service model.

“So far, four or five campuses have come to us about the checkout-free technology,” says McQuillin. “They want to be first adopters.”

Though he would not reveal the names of the institutions, he did say that they include some the largest in the U.S. He expects to be production-ready in September, with a first checkout-free rollout in spring 2023.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter


Feb 03, 23 /

Brown campus mailroom adds visual queue

Brown University has added a new visual queue in its campus mailroom that displays the order in which students will be called to pick up their packages. The system is underpinned by the student ID card and a kiosk system in the mailroom.
Feb 02, 23 / ,

East Carolina adds robot delivery with Grubhub, Starship

East Carolina University has joined the growing list of institutions to deploy robot delivery, partnering with Grubhub and Starship Technologies to provide the service. All students, faculty and staff at East Carolina University are able to leverage robot delivery from main campus dining locations.

LEAF on campus: An open standard for access control and identity management

ELATEC's Sean Houchin discusses a solution for campuses seeking an open alternative to traditional access control platforms: LEAF. LEAF is an open, interoperable platform that allows credential holders to use their LEAF ID card, key fob or smartphone to unlock access to various campus applications through any LEAF-enabled reader.
CIDN logo reversed
The only publication dedicated to the use of campus cards, mobile credentials, identity and security technology in the education market. CampusIDNews – formerly CR80News – has served more than 6,500 subscribers for more than two decades.

Join us, @NACCUorg, and @TouchNet to explore how campus card programs can successfully navigate the sales and procurement process. Join the webinar on June 6, 2 pm EDT.

Webinar: Learn how the University of Arizona uses campus cards, mobile ordering, kiosks, lockers, and robots to revolutionize campus dining. April 7, 2-2:30 EDT. Register Now at

As supply chain issues in 2021 persist, identity solutions provider @ColorID discusses ways campuses can to overcome potentially troublesome delays until the situation eases.

A dining services push at the @UBuffalo is reinforcing the utility of self-service checkout. @CBORD is improving the food service experience using the GET app, as well as Nextep kiosks and Oracle’s Micros Simphony POS.

Did you miss our recent webinar? No worries - watch it on-demand. Leaders from @NAU and the @UAlberta joined Ryan Audus, Touchnet, and Andrew Hudson, @CR80News, to discuss innovative mobile services and the future of mobile tech in higher ed. Watch now:

Load More...
CampusIDNews is published by AVISIAN Publishing
315 E. Georgia St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301[email protected]
Use our contact form to submit tips, corrections, or questions to our team.
©2023 CampusIDNews. All rights reserved.