7 Surprising Biometric Identification Methods: Everything From Your Smell, To Your Ears, Can Be Used To Prove That You — Are Really You

7 Surprising Biometric Identification Methods: Everything From Your Smell, To Your Ears, Can Be Used To Prove That You — Are Really You


The field of biometrics and identity management has been undergoing disruptive and revolutionary change the past decade, as staying hidden and/or undercover is becoming increasingly difficult. DNA-shedding, Iris and facial recognition, fingerprints that now can be downloaded from a personal photograph on the Internet, digital exhaust, overhead drones, retailers tracking us through our cell phones, and data brokers watching us as we browse the web — and, the list goes on. Staying hidden, anonymous, or undercover is becoming increasingly difficult and extremely challenging. As Candace Cooper wrote on the November 24, 2014 website, Inside Counsel (IC), “biometrics are unique data markers that identify [us] using intrinsic physical or behavioral characteristics. Physical characteristics can include fingerprints, face prints (facial recognition-ready photographs); Iris scans, palm and voice prints, wrist veins, hand geometry, a person’s gait, and DNA. Behavioral biometrics include non-biological, or non-physical features such as distinctive and unique mannerisms (signature or keystroke patterns, habitual behaviors).” And, adds Ms. Cooper, [personal] data collection is easily accomplished and does not necessarily require your cooperation, nor awareness.”

Dan Moren, writing in the December 30, 2014 website, Popular Science, “biometrics has long been put forth as the next big thing in authentication, replacing, or supplementing the concept of “things that you know,” — passwords, PINS, and so on, with “things that are you.” “But despite lots of advances in the realm of biometric authentication, it’s clear that there’s still plenty of room for improvement.”

“Hackers have found ways to trick and circumvent biometric authentication that relies on factors like fingerprints or facial recognition; and, it’s not hard to imagine that they’ll also find ways around more advanced authentication methods, too””

“In the end,” Mr. Moren writes, “what may prove most effective is a mix of methods, all of which add up to prove that you are in fact….you. While you may be familiar with security that employs fingerprints, voice, and retinas, we’re guessing at least a few of these biometric authentication methods under development will surprise you,” he writes.

Ear Ear

“You heard it here,” Mr. Moren writes. “The shape of your ear is just as distinguishing as your fingerprints; no two ears — even on the same person — are alike. Startup Descartes Biometrics has come up with an app that can identify smartphone users by the way they press the phone to their ear and cheek — though it is less-than-consistent recognition means that this particular app isn’t yet ready for prime time;

Follow Your Heart

The Nymi, is an in-development wristband that takes an Electrocardiogram (ECG) – measuring the electrical signal generated by your heart’s activity — and, uses it to authenticate your identity. “You can then use the Nymi as a secure token for unlocking access to other devices, such as smartphones and computers. To date, identifying by ECG is less proven than fingerprints, or iris/retina recognition, but give the burgeoning popularity of smart devices that measure your heart rate, it could end up being a convenient method of identification;

Butt Biometrics

“I suppose you could say there’s just one ‘but’ about this biometric authentication method — and it’s your posterior, Turns out your keister,” Mr. Moren writes, “or, more specifically, the way you sit — can be used to identify you. One team of researchers has created a prototype of a car seat that can tell who’s sitting in it. It’s not only great for making sure that only you (or, presumably your family) can start your car; but also potentially handy for ensuring that your seat, mirrors, and other preferences are automatically adjusted for you;”

The Eye Movements Have It

“Authentication via parts of the eye, like the retina or iris, has been around for a while,” Mr. Moren acknowledges, “but, an Israeli company wants to use the unique movements of your eyes to identify you. It seems we move our eyes in predictable patterns when doing certain tasks, such as following an icon across a screen. The advantages of the system are that it’s tough to fool, since it requires a real-time response to a stimulus, rather than a static factor like a fingerprint; and, it’s fairly easy to implement. The downside, I imagine, is that it requires eye contact (which may not be easy when you’re driving for instance) and, is probably a little slower than using something like a fingerprint;”

The Nose Knows

“Not only is your olfactory organ good for smelling ; but, British researchers have established that it’s also a handy way to tell you apart from your neighbor. Like your ears, your nose is distinct — probably belonging to one of six common nose types — and it is unlikely to be mistaken for anybody else’s. It’s also easy to recognize, though changing your nose is hardly as tough as changing — say — your eyes. Hollywood can vouch for that;”

You’re So Vein

“While your fingerprints may be the biometric standby these days, there are some issues with relying on them too heavily. For one, they’re fairly easy to copy. Second, if someone is truly invested in breaking into your accounts, that may provide enough enticement to (gulp), remove a finger. Vein matching, on the other hand, can also use a finger, or a palm, but provides few additional benefits — most notably that the veins must be from a living person in order to work, and that they’re very hard to fake;”

The Sniff Test

“When that grade school bully taunted “Smell ya later,” he probably didn’t realize that he was predicting another potential biometric method,” of identity management. That’s right,” Mr. Moren notes, “your distinct body odor — and we’re making no judgments here — can be used to identify you. Researchers at the Polytechnical University of Madrid, have studied how scents differ among people; and, built an artificial nose, which they say can differentiate between two people by their smell. Like a bloodhound. The U.S. Army is interested in similar technology, which it would like to use to help suss out potential threats. It’s still early days, though the artificial nose can filter out smells like hand cream, or changes in odor — caused by diet or disease; but the Madrid team’s technology still has a failure rate of around 10 percent.”

As the Sting/Police song goes, “Every move you make, every breath you take, every step you take, I’ll be watching you.” V/R, RCP

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