At schools in Pinellas County, Fla., students aren’t paying for lunch with cash or a card, but with a wave of their hand over a palm scanner.

“It’s so quick that a child could be standing in line, call mom and say, ‘I forgot my lunch money today.’ She’s by her computer, runs her card, and by the time the child is at the front of the line, it’s already recorded,” says Art Dunham, director of food services for Pinellas County Schools.

Students take about four seconds to swipe and pay for lunch, Dunham says, and they’re doing it with 99% accuracy.

“We just love it. No one wants to go back,” Dunham says.

Palm-scanning technology is popping up nationwide as a bona fide biometric tracker of identities, and it appears poised to make the jump from schools and hospitals to other sectors of the economy including ATM usage and retail. It also has applications as a secure identifier for cloud computing...