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Vending Machines Using Facial-recognition Technology Discovered in a Canadian University

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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Unintentionally, a malfunctioning vending machine at a Canadian university has exposed that several of them have been covertly utilizing facial recognition technology.

Vending Machine

This month, Reddit user SquidKid47 shared a photo of the University of Waterloo’s smart vending machines, which initially attracted attention. The image allegedly depicted a vending machine bearing the M&M brand with the error message “Invenda.Vending. FacialRecognition.App.exe — Application error” displayed on it.

Vending Machine Violation Through Facial Recognition Technology 

If not for the application error, we would not have been aware. A student named River Stanley, who looked into the machines for a piece in a university newspaper, told CTV that there was no warning here.

Neither the technology’s use by the machine nor the presence of a camera tracking student movements and purchases were disclosed beforehand. Users’ consent was not requested before their faces were scanned or examined.

The head of Adaria Vending Services’ technology services responded to these claims by telling MathNews that “an individual person cannot be identified using the technology in the machines.”

Head of Adairia’s Vending Machine Response

“It’s crucial to realize that the devices don’t capture or save any pictures or images, and the technology within them cannot be used to identify a specific individual,” the statement read.

“The technology functions as a motion sensor that recognizes faces, allowing the machine to determine when to launch the payment interface without ever capturing or storing customer images.”

Referring to the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union, the statement claimed that the machines are “fully GDPR compliant.” The rule governs how corporations may gather citizens’ data and is a component of the EU’s privacy laws. 

According to the statement, Adaria “manages last mile fulfillment services at the University of Waterloo — we handle restocking and logistics for the snack vending machines.”

“Adaria does not have access to user identification information or gather any data about its users from these M&M vending machines.”

University Of Waterloo Decision Over The Vending Machines

In a statement, the University of Waterloo stated that the machines would be taken off campus.

“The university has requested that these devices be taken out of the campus immediately.” A University of Waterloo representative, Rebecca Elming, told the outlet, “We’ve requested that the software be disabled in the interim.”

Students at the university in Ontario responded in the interim by using gum and paper to cover the hole they thought contained the camera.


When students at numerous US universities demonstrated against facial recognition technology on college campuses in March 2020, tensions increased, according to The Guardian.

A DePaul University student told the outlet, “Education should be a safe place, but this technology hurts the most vulnerable people in society.”


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Abdullahi Kafayat
Abdullahi Kafayat

Abdullahi Kafayat is an enthusiastic writer interested in the tech world. She's a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University and has a BSc in Chemistry. You can reach her at Kafayatabdullahi17@gmail.com.

Articles: 192

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