Yahoo has unveiled a new system that can use ear and knuckle patterns to authenticate users, according to a PCWorld article by Tim Hornyak. The company discussed the new system at the 2015 Computer-Human Interaction Conference in Seoul.
Called Bodyprint, the system uses a smartphone’s touchscreen to scan the imprints of ears, knuckles, palms, and fingers. While touchscreen sensors have lower resolutions than fingerprint sensors, they are robust enough to detect larger shapes; and because certain body parts, such as the ear, are unique to each individual, such a system can effectively use them as a means for identification and authentication. Yahoo’s researchers say that a small study found that Bodyprint had an accuracy of 99.52 percent – but that only involved 12 participants, so it’s a highly questionable metric at this point; and the researchers are not currently entertaining any specific ideas regarding commercialization of their system.
Still, it could prove valuable given the ubiquity of touchscreens in the market, particularly if its used in multimodal systems, which may become more and more prevalent in apps handling sensitive information. And the idea of scanning ears isn’t quite as strange as it sounds; there are other companies exploring this same modality, and in the case of smartphone deployments, users already hold the devices to their ears anyway, when they’re not hunching over them awkwardly.