VIDA brings biometrics to health club experience
Washington D.C., October 31, 2006 – At VIDA Fitness, the latest business venture from Capital City Brewing Co. founder David von Storch, the approach goes beyond basic health and exercise to incorporate the latest electronic wizardry. With its cutting-edge fingerprint scan ID system, wireless technology throughout the building and live feeds from the Verizon Center events playing at television sets on the gym’s cardio equipment, von Storch designed VIDA with an equal amount of attention on technology. “We’re trying to make it an enhanced experience for the customer,” said von Storch.
The club’s most visible technology is its member ID system. Instead of getting an ID card, members get a fingerprint scan that is stored in VIDA’s database. Using touchpads throughout the building, members scan their finger to check into the club, as well as make appointments at the spa or salon. “When you scan a card, you can have someone else’s,” von Storch said. “You can’t have someone else’s fingerprint.”
The technology was developed by M2SYS in Atlanta and integrated into a health club setting by Silver Spring-based KI Software. The system essentially uses biometric technology, but takes it one step further with the unique way that it encodes the fingerprint scan. Most biometric fingerprint scans attach a pin number to the scan, said Al Noshirvani, president and CEO of KI Software, and the fingerprint is used as a way to validate the pin number. But with VIDA’s system, the fingerprint scan stands alone. After a member has their finger scanned, the print is turned into a digital code of letters and numbers and the original fingerprint scan is trashed, eliminating potential privacy issues about having such information on file.
While biometric technology has been making headlines recently for its security applications, von Storch said he decided to invest in the system for his commercial venture because it makes a more seamless experience for the gym’s clients. “Members control their relationship with us without having a pin number, without having to remember anything,” he said. VIDA Fitness appears to be the only club in the country so far using the enhanced biometric system. “Health clubs are probably less technically inclined than [most] delis,” Noshirvani said. “For someone like VIDA to embrace technology the way they have to solve real business needs, really serves as a differentiator.”
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