The University of Southampton

Could ears be the perfect biometric?

Published: 28 May 2012

Research into ear biometrics by Professor Mark Nixon of ECS-Electronics and Computer Science has raised new potential for security systems.

The research is currently profiled on the leading website, All Analytics, where Mark is featured explaining the potential uses of his pioneering work into ear identification.

A Professor of Computer Vision in the ECS Communications, Signal Processing and Control research group, Mark believes that using photos of individual ears matched against a comparative database could be as distinctive a form of identification as fingerprints.

He said: “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.”

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

“During walk-throughs 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.

Read the All Analytics article.

For further information on this news story contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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