Bodyprint uses ear scans for authentication

Unlock your phone with your ear

Researchers at Yahoo have demonstrated an authentication system that uses the whole touchscreen as the image sensor and verifies biometrics with low-resolution scans.

While the latest smartphones now include fingerprint scanners to conveniently verify the identity of the user, they use high-resolution sensors to ensure accuracy, making them expensive and limiting their use to high-end phones.

Bodyprint differs from other biometric authentication systems because it can scan other body parts -- such as ears, fingers, fists and palms -- and match them to a database with over 99 percent accuracy.

“When pressed against the screen, a body part has a 1–1 mapping to the screen’s sensor cells. This mapping remains constant over time, such that scanned parts will always exhibit the same dimensions on the device,” the researchers wrote in a paper on the technology.

"Bodyprint compensates for the low input resolution with an increased false rejection rate, but does not compromise on authentication precision," the team wrote. "Bodyprint identified users with 99.5 percent precision in an evaluation with 12 participants with a false rejection rate of 26.8 percent across all body parts, but as low as 7.8 percent for ear-only matching, which is explained through the increased presence of structural features in the human ear.”

Because all current touchscreens use capacitive sensing, the researchers believe that Bodyprint can bring reliable biometric authentication to the full range of mobile devices.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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