Yahoo is looking to develop news ways to authenticate yourself on your smartphone using biometrics with the Yahoo Labs project Bodyprint. So far, the Yahoo Labs team has successfully enabled biometrics logging using many parts of your hand like the phallanges, your hand in a fist state or the grip of your palm and fingers. But the most interesting feature of Bodyprint is an identification with your ear.
The technology works by scanning your ear with the touchscreen and producing a signature image that will be used afterward to correctly identify you. The low-resolution but large-area image will be used to extract features unique to your ear thanks to Bodyprint that transforms a simple touchscreen into a effective image sensor.
One of the major obstacle to the adoption of biometrics identification was the price involved. Like we can see on iPhones, fingerprints technology requires a specific sensor that must work with high-resolution in order to correctly scan our very defined finger tips. These sensors are mostly only available on high-end smartphones like the iPhone 6 or the Galaxy S6 and thus cost a lot. But now with the advent of the likes of Bodyprint, the sky is the limit!
Some could argue that the touchscreen technology is not very accurate (just remember how much it’s annoying when your touchscreen is not responding) and that it might limit the effectiveness of this new system. However, Yahoo Labs says Bodyprint will still be effective by using increased false rejection to compensate the lack of resolution of the image scanned. That means it could take more that one shot to authenticate yourself on you phone.
With biometrics companies are looking to achieve mainly two goals: it deters the stealing of smartphone which criminals are basically picking up like berry fruits in public transit or on the street. More over, it greatly increases the chance the account holder is really the one actually using the device or the service at any given time.
Tech companies don’t like when many users access an account as it distorts the accuracy of their data. They care about that because they use these data to feed you advertisement and to develop their platform so they need to make sure their database is accurate in order to be as relevant as possible to you.
Right now it is mostly phone manufacturers like Apple and samsung that offer bio-identification through a specific sensor. However, Yahoo Labs’ project is a technological breakthrough; it allows bio-ID by using the touchscreen capacity and nothing more. This a cheap alternative that could even work better than the actual biometric technology used by Apple and Samsung’s phone.
But here at Noramericast we think we could even start to see in a not so distant future internet companies such as Facebook or Google starting to offer biometrics as an alternative for logging in instead of using a regular password. Yahoo’s project is clearly stating this is possible to accomplish for these companies. The only thing a user would have to do to enable bio-ID on a smartphone would simply be to grant touchscreen capacity access for the Facebook and Twitter applications.
When you take into account the fact most phones in the future will be equipped with touchscreen, technologies like bodyprint are definitely a game changer. It means the technology could be implented in a wide spectrum of application and that, all around the world, even in markets where people are using feature phones, as many will indeed have touchscreen capacity due to science progress that renders the technology increasingly affordable.
However, proponents of the defense of private life could be very worried about this news and that’s perfectly understandable. It even rises another security problem with the potential hack of biometrics database. While it is really a problem, the main bug could be instead if we whether trust large corporations with our biometrics data. Bio-ID enhances your protection from unwanted access to your device, but create in some ways another privacy issue. This could be solved in part by creating agencies that would specialize in biometrics authentication to reduce the dissemination of bio-data everywhere on the Internet. But that’s another discussion we going to tackle later on. #YahooLabs