Security is by far one of the most prominent issues currently in the smartphone world. Whether it is manufacturer-level security issues like encryption or user-level issues like keeping your device locked in a secure enough manner, protecting user data is the common theme. While the debate on unbreakable encryption goes on, at the user level manufacturers have been looking to find the next best way to make sure a device is locked and remains locked until opened by the owner. One of the most commonly used methods right now is the use of fingerprint sensors which require the owner to use their fingerprint as a means of identification. That said, it does seem that the next way to unlock your smartphone could be your ear. Back in mid 2015, Amazon were noted filing an ear-unlock patent and now NEC has detailed their vision for a system which makes use of the ear's print for individual identification.
According to the details, NEC's approach uses earphones which come equipped with a microphone to identify a person. The logic is that the earphone and microphone produce sounds into the ear and it is the resonating of the sounds which determines the person. The resonating sound bounce against the cavities of the ear and it is the cavity bounce response which essentially is distinguishable between people, thereby acting as the means of identification. According to NEC, the whole process of identifying using this method can be achieved in under a second and is apparently accurate to a degree "greater than 99%."
With NEC and Amazon both reported to be interested in using such technology, it is starting to become evident that the ear is certainly one of the next body parts which is generating interest from manufacturers looking for the next level of security. In terms of NEC's approach though, although they expect to commercialize the technology, this is not expected to happen anytime soon, with NEC noting an expected commercialization to occur in 2018. Interestingly, NEC details a number of the benefits of this approach as identification during calls and not as a direct replacement to fingerprint sensors, although, it would be assumed this would likely be the outcome. Either way, those interested in reading more about NEC's vision of ear identification can do so by heading through the source link below.