Could EARS be the new fingerprints?



Could EARS be the new fingerprints? Scientists say ear recognition could be used to catch criminals and unlock phones because body part retains unique features and proportions

  • Although ears get bigger throughout a person’s life, they keep unique attributes 
  • Some experts say the organs have many advantages over facial recognition 
  • Mark Nixon, a Southampton Uni professor, said: 'Ears have a stable structure'

By Jessica Green For Mailonline

Published: 13:15 EST, 10 February 2019 | Updated: 13:17 EST, 10 February 2019

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Ears are as good as fingerprints for checking people’s identity and could be used to catch criminals and unlock people’s phones, scientists said.

Although the organs get bigger throughout a person’s life, the experts found that they keep unique attributes which make them useful identifiers. 

Mark Nixon, a Southampton University professor and author of The Effect of Time on Ear Biometrics, explained how using a person’s ears to identify them has many advantages over facial recognition.

Ears are as good as fingerprints for checking people’s identity and could be used to catch criminals and unlock people’s phones, scientists said
Ears are as good as fingerprints for checking people’s identity and could be used to catch criminals and unlock people’s phones, scientists said

Ears are as good as fingerprints for checking people’s identity and could be used to catch criminals and unlock people’s phones, scientists said

He told The Sunday Times: ‘Ears have a rich and stable structure. [They] do not suffer from changes in facial expression, and are firmly fixed in the middle of the side of the head so that the background is predictable.’

The professor added: ‘The ear is large compared with the iris, retina and fingerprint, and so easily captured at a distance.’

Fingerprints can rub off or callous over during hard or repetitive labour, as such ears could prove to be a more reliable form of identifying.

However, there are limitations - including hair covering the ears and different IDs made from varied angles.

Fingerprints can rub off or callous over during hard or repetitive labour, as such ears could prove to be a more reliable form of identifying
Fingerprints can rub off or callous over during hard or repetitive labour, as such ears could prove to be a more reliable form of identifying

Fingerprints can rub off or callous over during hard or repetitive labour, as such ears could prove to be a more reliable form of identifying

As such, while ear prints are unlikely to fully replace the fingerprint system used to identify people, it could become a valuable addition for solving crimes.

Meanwhile, it was announced in 2015 that researchers had created a sensor that could recognise the unique shape of a person's ear, palm or any other body part they'd want to use to access their device.

Called Bodyprint, the technology turns a standard touchscreen into a biometric scanner removing the need for specialist hardware such as fingerprint readers or infrared cameras.  

Bodyprint was devised by Christian Holz, Senaka Buthpitiya, and Marius Knaust from the California-based Yahoo Labs.

Details of its algorithm are included in their paper, Bodyprint: Biometric User Identification on Mobile Devices Using the Capacitive Touchscreen to Scan Body Parts. 

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