It’s not in the eyes, the face, or fingerprints. For some researchers, the future of biometrics lies in the ear.
Imagine walking into a store and instead of submitting to an iris scan, like in Minority Report, having the cameras scan your ear, noting its curves and wrinkles, to identify you. Christopher Mims, blogging for Technology Review, reports that that day may come.
What makes the human ear good for use as a biometric is its uniqueness, which does not change with age. But first the computer needs to be able to pick your ear out of the crowd, which–while easy for a human–is quite difficult for a computer.
It’s a question you wouldn’t be surprised to hear a toddler ask: Do butterflies have ears? Well yes, yes they do. And one species was recently discovered to have ears on their wings. The blue morpho butterfly from Central and South America has beautiful bright blue wings complete with a simple ear structure that picks up noise and relays it to the brain.
In the new study, Kathleen Lucas of the University of Bristol in England and her colleagues were interested in the odd-looking hearing membrane that sits at the base of the blue morpho’s wing. The tympanal membrane, as it is called, is oval-shaped with a dome at its center that kind of resembles the yolk at the center of a fried egg, Lucas said.
Researchers determined that the butterflies can distinguish high and low frequencies, uncommon in simple ears, and they speculate this could help them determine if a hungry bird is about to swoop down and attack.
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Image: flickr / DavidDennisPhotos.com