This Medical School in Japan Uses Facial Recognition for Attendance

Students take turns using tablets to take photos of themselves to confirm attendance.
April 12, 2019, 10:13am
Tablets are now being used by a Japanese college to ensure accurate attendance and efficiency. Photo from Unsplash

This article originally appeared on VICE Asia

In pop culture history, students have come up with all sorts of ways to dodge attendance checks: walking in reverse, having your classmate sign up for you, or not come up at all a la Ferris Bueller. It’s an escape from responsibility, really. Students can get real smart (only) when they need to.

But a newly-introduced system by the Hyogo College of Medicine is outsmarting all of that.


On Thursday, April 11, Hyogo College of Medicine introduced a facial-recognition system to check students’ attendance. They are the first university to implement the system in Japan.

It isn’t so much that the college is enforcing a stricter policy on tardy or absent students –it’s about efficiency. By freeing professors up from the tedious task of using standard attendance sheets, the college expects to cut 425 hours of work in a year, according to a report by Japan Times.

Here’s how it works: at the beginning of their classes, students take turns using tablets by holding them up to their faces. The tablet uses a system that cross-checks the image with pre-registered images in their database. Meanwhile, the teacher uses a separate tablet to check attendance in real time. If the facial recognition software somehow doesn’t work, students type in their ID number instead.

The college also hopes to use the new function to recognize long-term absentee students and provide appropriate mental and physical healthcare. Keiichiro Suzuki, deputy chief of the college, says that the previous system didn’t provide a comprehensive manner of watching over the students. The new system will help the college “increase trust from students and parents” and “prevent the nuisance related to checking attendance,” he adds. In the future, the system will hopefully be used for security reasons as well.

In a progressively technology-reliant world, using tablets and facial recognition to register attendance may quickly become the norm. Let's wait and see how – and if – students can find a way around that.