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A breath of fresh air? Breath biometrics proposed by Indian researchers

Categories Biometric R&D  |  Biometrics News
A breath of fresh air? Breath biometrics proposed by Indian researchers

A group of researchers is breathing life into a new biometric system that could identify a person  by measuring the way they breathe, specifically their exhalations.

Each of us breathes in a different way. During exhalation, air passes from the lungs through the complex internal structures of our airways which creates turbulence signatures – a unique biomarker. Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in India have now created a biometric algorithm based on measuring the turbulence in an exhaled breath which can be used to authenticate and identify a user, according to research published in open-access repository arXiv.

To evaluate the performance of the algorithm, scientists measured exhaled breath from 94 human subjects. The group used a hot-wire anemometer to collect their breath data, a research tool for measuring fluid dynamics.

“The user confirmation algorithms performed exceedingly well for the given dataset with over 97 percent true confirmation rate,” the research paper notes. “The user identification algorithm performs reasonably well with the provided dataset with over 50 percent of the users identified as being within two possible suspects.”

More samples from a larger population would be necessary to build an algorithm for user identification algorithm, where the test user’s identity is not revealed beforehand, the paper adds.

In the future, the application could be used in personalized medicine. Exhalations are used as a non-invasive diagnostic tool for several medical issues, such as malaria, lung disease and even diabetes. A benefit of the new biometric system is that it would be difficult to reconstruct the original time series that create individual biometric traits, according to the scientists.

“Since the input of the exhaled breath-based biometric system is correlated with the internal morphology of the human body, it is impossible for a hacker to spoof-authenticate a user,” the researchers write.

And if the latest research doesn’t take your breath away, perhaps it’s time to get your toothbrush ready.

In Japan’s Kyushu University, scientists have developed a sensor that can biometrically authenticate a person by the way their breath smells. According to research published in 2022, the “artificial nose” was able to authenticate up to 20 individuals with an average accuracy of more than 97 percent.

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