Login with your ear? Yep. And soon.

Login with your ear? Yep. And soon.

We all know how easy it is for our online information to be hacked; for our lives (extending beyond just what is online) to be stolen from us by someone who knows more than we do.

To help prevent this, we trust our information to passwords, to fingerprint scanners, to other security measures all the way up the line to what feels like James Bond-esque technology.

But we also know how easy it is for these things to be faked. Fingerprints can be duplicated using Play-Doh, and something as simple as a 2D picture can often dupe an eye-scanner. And we all know how terrible passwords are at protecting anything.

So, with that in mind, researchers from NEC (NEC; TSE: 6701) developed an ear-based login system, one that allows you to access sensitive information (banking, personal records, etc.) using your internal ear canal.

This is not James Bond. Retina scans were James Bond. Voice recognition was James Bond. This is beyond James Bond.

Here’s how it works:

The system sends sound into the user’s ear and then measures the echoes they receive. The echo is based on sound reflected from the user’s external ear canal, called the tympanic membrane, and by sound that is reflected within the inner parts of the ear. The response received through the echo is converted into digital sound, and this “digital echo” becomes your unique ID.

TiltMN, Adrian Schramm

According to NEC (check it out here) accuracy currently stands at >99%, and takes about 1 second to measure.

This will be especially useful for smart phones, which we already hold to our ears. As we conduct our business and our lives more and more through portable devices such as smart phones, the idea is that this will protect against cyber fraud and other malicious intent in ways that other security systems could not: it’s pretty near impossible for criminals to reconstruct someone’s internal ear canal. And you don’t want to end up like the Gophers’ Ken Dorsey (read more about that).

This new technology may be unprecedented (unheard of, you could say?) but should be available by 2018 if all goes according to plan.

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Login with your ear? Yep. And soon.