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Biometric authentication based on the acoustic characteristics of the ears

Featured Technologies

March 1, 2018

Authentication technology using biometrics (biological information), such as fingerprints and face images, has a limited risk of leaks or theft compared to passwords and keys, as well as an advantage that it cannot be forgotten or lost.
With the cooperation of Nagaoka University of Technology, NEC developed the ear acoustics authentication, a biometrics person authentication technology using differing acoustic reflections from the shape of human ear canal.

Fig.1 User-specific characteristics are captured based on the shape of ear canal by analyzing the acoustic reflection of the sound transmitted to the ear

Identifying the difference in the shape of ear canal using sound

This technology enables identity authentication just by having the person wear earphones with a microphone. In addition to its high recognition precision, this new biometrics recognition technology features a stress-free implementation for users thanks to its familiar format of listening to sound through earphones. This technology can also use higher-frequency, inaudible sounds in order to complete the authentication process without the user's awareness. Authentication is also possible while the subject is on the move or working, and caters to the protection of secrecy, both of which expand the applicability of this biometrics recognition.

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Fig.2 Level of sound reflection by frequency differs among people
(Left: Sound audible to the human ear, Right: Sound inaudible to the human ear)
Fig.3 Audible field for select animals including human (audible range) and inaudible sound used in the ear acoustics authentication
(using high-frequency sound with a short wavelength about 1 cm)

NEC aims to apply this technology to practical use with an eye toward forgery checks in safety and security operations for the maintenance, control, and security of critical infrastructure facilities, streamlining at medical establishments and call centers by means of hands-free authentication, and smart earphones as life commodities.

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