Unlocking phone with parts of your body

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You may one day be able to unlock your smartphone by
holding it against your ear instead of your finger.
That is the goal of Bodyprint, an authentication system
created by Yahoo Labs that turns a smartphone’s capacitive
touchscreen into a biometric scanner. But because the
scanning device is much larger than a fingerprint scanner, the
system allows smartphone owners to unlock their handsets
using body parts other than their fingerprint — such as their
ear when answering a call.

“While the input resolution of a touchscreen is about 6 dpi, the
surface area is larger, allowing the touch sensor to scan
users’ body parts, such as ears, fingers, fists, and palms by
pressing them against the display,” the Yahoo Labs team
wrote on the project’s web page .
From email to texts, phonebook entries, and pictures, your
phone has lots of personal information that’s potentially
accessible to prying eyes. Passcodes are effective but
sometimes tedious. Fingerprint scanners are a convenient way
to secure handsets, but they are pricey and often limited to
high-end handsets, noted the Yahoo team, which was led by
Christian Holz
While a capacitive touchscreen is too low resolution to
capture the fine lines and whorls of a fingerprint, it can
capture larger prints from the body. For example, a phone
could scan the unique shape of a user’s ear as they hold the
phone to their head to answer a call.
“Bodyprint compensates for the low input resolution with an
increased false rejection rate, but does not compromise on
authentication precision,” the team wrote. “In our evaluation
with 12 participants, Bodyprint classified body parts with
99.98 percent accuracy and identifies users with 99.52
percent accuracy, with a false rejection rate of 26.82 percent
accuracy to prevent false positives.”
Christian Holz
The team tested the system against a range of prints. This
includes the aforementioned ear print; the print of the user’s
knuckles and fingers when they press a fist to the screen; the
shape created when the user curls their fingers and presses
their intermediate phalanges to the screen; the shape of the
user’s palm on the screen; and the shape made by the users
fingers as they grip the phone around the back.
These prints were obtained by taking and analysing images of
the touch patterns on the screen, rather than two-dimensional
location mapping, which is how mobile devices track and
process gestures.
The results were precise: “Scanning users’ ears for
identification, Bodyprint achieves 99.8 percent authentication
precision with a false-rejection rate of 1 out of 13, thereby
bringing reliable biometric user authentication to a vast
number of commodity devices.”
In a video demonstrating the technology, Bioprint can also be
keyed to multiple users on a single device. The use case
shown was the phone requiring two users’ permission to
access a document. It’s also possible that the technology
could improve in the future.
“In the case that future touchscreens support higher input
resolutions, up to a point where they may detect the fine
structure of fingerprints, Bodyprint will readily incorporate the
higher level of detail of sensor data, which will not only extend
our approach to further body parts, but likely reduce false
rejection rates at the same high levels of authentication
precision,” the team said.
The next step in the development of Bodyprint is the
improvement of the recognition algorithms, before testing on a
wider scale.continue at WWW.CNET.com

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