Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) are low intensity sounds produced by mammalian ears. They are generated by the activity of the outer hair cells in the cochlea and are a by-product of an active process that amplifies quiet sounds. OAE are normally associated with the clinical evaluation of the status of the cochlea and the assessment of hair cell functionality. It has often been commented that OAE appear unique to individuals and can be used to distinguish gender and ethnicity. This evidence suggests that OAE could be used to distinguish between individuals and could therefore form the basis of a biometric system.
Until recently, OAEs have never been studied with a biometric application in mind. This project is investigating the potential for an OAE to be used as a universal, unique, permanent and collectable biometric for identification purposes.