The New Security Trend: Ears

The New Security Trend: Ears

Figuring out new ways to authenticate a person’s being is becoming more complex. We’ve seen passwords and PINs changed into 3D touch sensors that allow your fingerprint to do the work for you. Now, we are seeing those fingerprints get swapped for our faces, with facial recognition becoming commonplace when trying to sign into a banking account or even buy something on Amazon

They’ve thought of everything, right? Wrong.

The future of security solutions and the identification of a person may rest solely on the uniqueness of a pair of ears. NEC Corporation, the inventor of this new personal identification technology, says it has an accuracy rating of 99%.

In a statement on their website, NEC says that the new technology instantaneously measures acoustic characteristics determined by the shape of the ear, which is unique for each person. The technology uses an earphone with a built-in microphone to college earphone-generated sounds as they resonate within ear cavities.

“Since the new technology does not require particular actions such as scanning a part of the body over an authentication device,” said Shigeki Yamagata, general manager, Information and Media Processing Laboratories, NEC Corporation. “It enables a natural way of conducting continuous authentication, even during movement and while performing work, simply by wearing an earphone with a built-in microphone to listen to the sounds within ears.”

The key features of this new technology center around the idea that a personal identification system should be accurate and instantaneous. The microphone ear bud would only need “a few hundred milliseconds” of acoustic signals from the ear in order to identify the person. Each time the method is used, the device adds and obtains the average of the waveforms found in the ear cavity, the multiple signals are used to eliminate noise from the signals as well as help to calculate how sound resonates within the ear.

The reason why this technology is thought to work so well is because the extraction of signals is based on the unique structure of the human ear to achieve accurate recognition. Since the shape and size of the ear are unique for each person, these acoustics-based features can be used in distinguishing individuals.

That’s not all there is for your ears, though. I mean, the biometric authentication system using your ears is pretty cool but thinking a little more abstractly about ear and its use of one of the five senses leads us to audio, and how the security industry is bending to include sound.

Sound has been a bit of a taboo subject, when it comes to surveillance. While it is be wildly helpful, it also encroaches on one’s privacy and there are also those laws that say we shouldn’t wiretap. Bypassing those problems altogether are the industry leading products that are used to detect certain sounds rather than record everything it hears. These devices have been and continue to be especially helpful in high crime areas or even school campuses. Most devices specialize in certain sounds, such as gunfire or violent crime sounds (ex: broken glass, noises over a certain decimal) and can immediately notify authorities, therefore cutting down reaction times.

Audio devices are picking up in the market as consumers are finding out just how to implement them, creating even more reason for manufacturers to dive into designing more audio equipment built to keep sites more secure. As teased at Milestone’s Annual symposium in Scottsdale, Arizona during a Future Technology panel, “Audio is definitely going to be surfacing in new and exciting ways soon.”

So, I think it is perfectly reasonable to assign the newest security trend to the ears. What about you? What do you think in currently trending in the security industry?

Posted by Sydny Shepard on Mar 29, 2016

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