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Could ears be the perfect biometric?


Research into ear biometrics by University of Southampton professor Mark Nixon has raised new potential for security systems.

Nixon believes that using photos of individual ears matched against a comparative database could be as distinctive a form of identification as fingerprints.

Nixon noted: “Using ears for identification has clear advantages over other kinds of biometric identification, as, once developed, the ear changes little throughout a person’s life. This provides a cradle-to-grave method of identification.”

Nixon and his research colleagues believe that this form of non-contact identification could have a possible application in security systems.

“During walkthroughs at security checkpoints cameras could digitally photograph passers-by comparing their ears against others in a database. Used in combination with face recognition, ear recognition offers a second point of comparison in cases where all or part of a face might be obstructed, for example, by make-up,” he said.

“Keeping images of ears, as opposed to faces, might also raise fewer privacy concerns,” he added.

Will using ears for biometric identification ever become popular?

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