There is an interesting boom happening in the tech world right now. It's focused on innovating new ways to verify people's identity.
The latest company to make headway in this space is Japanese firm NEC, which recently announced it is developing earbuds that can confirm identities by playing a sound and then analysing how it resonates in the wearer's ear canal. This type of verification is called a biometric check. An alternative biometric check would be a fingerprint sensor or eye scanner.
The inside of every person's ears is unique, and NEC's earphones use a microphone to record the waveforms generated by an audio noise reflecting around the eardrum, meaning resulting data can be used to identify an individual. NEC said its earbuds can do an ID test in about 1 second and that it plans to launch products using this particular biometric check by late 2018.
MasterCard is another company exploring biometric checks. It plans to accept selfies and fingerprints as an alternative to passwords and already tested this verification process during a trial in the US and Netherlands last year. An actual rollout of the new system is planned for this summer in the UK, US, and Canada. Google even offers a new verification system called hands-free.
Hands Free is a new Google app that allows you to check-out in stores without needing to grab your phone or wallet. It uses Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, location services, and other sensors in your phone to detect whether you are near a participating store. It also uses visual identification. With this setup, an in-store camera confirms your identity based on your Hands Free profile picture.
That said, according to NEC, its earbuds can conduct reliable checks more than 99 per cent of the time. So, if implemented effectively, they could be a much-welcomed departure from passcodes and fingerprints.