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We spend a lot of money on toys. If the iPad turns out to be a toy, so what? If some people manage to use it for actual work, great.
I don't know that they will be punished at exam time. Many professors grade exams on the curve, meaning that they pass X percent of the class. If many students do poorly on the exam, clearly the exam was too hard.
When my father was in med school, ca 1950, attendance was taken and affected your right to take the exam, so this is not a new concept.
All that said, it won't work. For example, I walk into class and the sensors detect my card, so I'm logged as being in attendance. Woo hoo. Now I put my card in a metal wallet that prevents the sensors from reading the card and walk out the door. The sensors do not detect me leaving. Or, equally silly, I oversleep and I'm in a rush to get to class and leave my card on my dresser. So I'm in class, verified by many classmates and possibly the professor, but I'm logged as absent.