Biometrics: Moving Far Beyond Fingerprints

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Body odor biometrics

According to researchers at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and Ilía Sistemas SL, there are unique characteristics in each person’s body odor that remain constant and can be used to determine identity. “The biometric technique has an error rate of 15 percent in early stages of development, leaving room for improvement, but also showing promise that it could be a viable method with more fine-tuning,” explains Jonathan Levine, CTO of Intermedia. While it’s bizarre to imagine our smart devices and electronics “sniffing” us to verify our identities, primary body odor is impossible to replicate and isn’t masked by secondary odors (e.g., dietary, environmental) or tertiary odors (e.g., lotions, perfumes).

Security used to mean “difficult,” says Phil Dunkelberger, CEO of Nok Nok Labs. It’s easy to see why he thinks this. Organizations have struggled for decades to find security tools that kept out bad guys while admitting authorized persons. This is both a physical security and cybersecurity issue.

But, Dunkelberger adds, thanks to the impact of biometrics over the past few years, security is no longer quite as difficult. “Every day,” he says, “millions of people interact with a sliver of glass in their pocket that will tell them everything from the current age of the universe to when their shampoo will be delivered to their doorstep to how much money they have in their retirement account. Each of these interactions, thanks to biometrics, can be accomplished seamlessly and without friction. No longer are they required to create and remember a highly entropic code to use as a shared-secret; now they can simply look at that sliver of glass and blink.”

Biometrics are changing the way we think about security. Here are some of the more innovative ways biometrics are being used and what we can expect in the future.

 

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