When it comes to biometric security, everything started off with the humble fingerprint sensor, but the future will move to a number of different avenues such as iris recognition, and the latest to emerge – ear recognition.
Yes, apparently Yahoo is working on a method of unlocking your smartphone based on your ear-print – or possibly the user’s fist, or the way they grip the phone.
The idea here is that dedicated fingerprint sensors aren’t cheap, and as a result not viable for cheaper phones, so Yahoo wants to simply use the phone display as a way of authentication. No added hardware is necessary, and therefore no extra expense.
Yahoo’s system, which the BBC spotted, has been named Bodyprint, and is explained by the team thusly: “Bodyprint brings biometric authentication to commodity mobile devices using the capacitive touchscreen as a low-resolution, but large-area image sensor to reliably identify users based on their ears, fists, or grips when pressed against the touchscreen.”
There are obvious advantages to using the ear as an unlocking mechanism, too – when a call rings, putting the phone up to your ear will automatically authenticate and then take the call.
Some folks may immediately worry about the accuracy of such a system – after all, there’s nothing worse than flaky authentication which requires repeated attempts to succeed – but Yahoo claims that when it comes to ear recognition, it has achieved 99.8 per cent precision, and a false rejection rate of 1 in 13.
The Bodyprint team concludes: “This demonstrates the viability of biometric user identification using the touchscreen in commodity devices.”