Campus ID News
Card, mobile credential, payment and security

University of Minnesota tracks conference attendees with PDA and mag reader

CampusIDNews Staff   ||   Aug 01, 2002  ||   , ,

The University of Minnesota’s U Card Office knows how to produce ID cards. They manage production and card services for more than 80,000 students, faculty, and staff at the main campus in Minneapolis and at the University’s three affiliate campuses. It was this ID card experience that got them involved with the Heart Failure Society of America and an innovative new magnetic stripe card reader that has implications for card offices across the country.

The University of Minnesota’s Continuing Medical Education Department awards continuing education units (CEUs) to attendees of Heart Failure Society’s annual conference. A part of this role includes significant participation at the group’s annual conference. Several years ago, the U Card staff began producing conference badges for the annual meeting as a tool to facilitate registration and enable participant tracking for the award of CEUs.

The conference is attended by cardiologists, pharmacologists, nurses, and other medical practitioners involved in heart-related care. As members attend an educational session or course, they are registered so that they receive proper credit for their participation. The challenge has always been how to quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively register the more than 2500 participants choosing between the numerous concurrent sessions.
For the past three years, the U Card office has provided laptop computers equipped with magnetic stripe readers to be transported between sessions to collect data. According to Heather Powell, Marketing Communications Manager for the U Card Office, “we utilize temps to help run the conference and the laptops always necessitated lots of training and technical support.” In addition, the per-station costs were high and the setup was cumbersome and awkward.

At the 2002 annual meeting to be held in Boca Raton, Florida next month, a new solution will be unveiled. The U Card office will utilize handheld Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) with on-board magnetic stripe readers in place of the bulky computers used in the past. The card is swiped through the reader on the PDA and the data is held in the PDA’s on-board memory.

Following the session or series of sessions, the data is transferred from the PDA to a computer via a USB cable. Says Ms. Powell, “the data is then merged into a Microsoft Access version of the original registration database and we can generate CEU certificates and mailing labels immediately after the conference.”

The software and card readers are provided Delaware-based TokenWorks Inc.™. The company’s magnetic stripe reader, called CardTool, slides into the expansion slot on any Handspring Visor PDA. The Handspring Visor utilizes the industry standard PalmOS. Using the basic CardScribe software that is provided with the CardTool reader, data from a magnetic stripe is captured and date/time stamped.

In addition to using the PDAs for continuing education tracking at the sessions, vendors in the exhibit hall can utilize the devices to track visitors to their booth. Visitors present their card to the vendor for swiping and the vendors, at the end of the show, downloads the collected data to a PC. The U Card staff will then query the file against the registration database and provide a file with visitor contact information to the vendor.

According to Ms. Powell, “for this application, we didn’t have to do any development work at all. It came ready to go.” For future on-campus uses, however, Ms. Powell intends to call upon the PalmOS development expertise in the University’s IT department. “We plan to replace the laptop setup that we use for off-line eligibility checking at campus events with the PDA. This may require some custom development but our IT staff is well equipped to take care of it in-house.”

When asked about her experience with the new solution, Ms. Powell sums it up, “You plug it in and it works. I just can’t get over it. I took the reader out of the box, stuck it into the PDA, and I was swiping cards.”

Heather Powell, Marketing Communications Manager for the University of Minnesota U Card Office, can be reached via email at [email protected] Details on the TokenWorks™ card reader and software can be found at

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.