NEC develops earphone prototype with otoacoustic authentication technology

May 30, 2017 - 

NEC Corporation has developed a prototype “hearable device” (earphone device) user authentication technology, which enables users to safely and securely activate their computing devices without using their hands.

The earphone authentication device leverages NEC’s otoacoustic authentication technology, which recognizes the characteristics of the user’s ear to enable hands-free authentication.

The device’s motion sensor can be used to estimate the location of users, even in indoor environments where GPS signals are obstructed, providing them with guidance if they get lost in large facilities.

Since the device is placed in a user’s ear, it is subject to less movement and noise when compared to wearable devices attached to the wrist or around the neck.

As a result, the device is able to obtain information more reliably as well as recognize the orientation of a user’s face, a change in posture, or activities such as walking or running.

NEC is working to add other capabilities to the prototype including the ability to track pulse rates and other biometric information.

The prototype can be connected to a smartphone or other computing devices via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) to access the Internet and a wide range of services, including map sites for city guidance.

In addition, the device features a microphone, speaker, and a 9-axis motion sensor, which is equipped with acceleration, gyroscope, and geomagnetic sensors.

In an effort to promote the development of various services for the device, NEC will publicly provide application programming interfaces (API) for its otoacoustic authentication technology and indoor positioning technology, as well as provide device manufacturers with design specifications for the hearable device prototype.

“NEC is aiming to commercialize hearable platform services that combine individual authentication, indoor positioning, acoustic AR (augmented reality), vital sensing and other technologies by the end of 2018,” said Tomonori Kumagai, NEC’s general manager of business development division. “Going forward, NEC will accelerate trials in collaboration with service providers and device manufacturers, while proposing new approaches to computing that utilize these technologies.”

Earlier this month, NEC launched its NeoFace Express facial recognition solution, a key component of a rapid-access biometric platform.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.