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The Newest Biometric User Identification Technology Should Worry You

April 28, 2016

The Newest Biometric User Identification Technology Should Worry You

SkullConduct

Researchers in Germany just announced the use of sound technology called “SkullConduct”, and it is being billed as a way to get rid of conventional passwords by using biometric authentication instead.  


With an already early 97% success rate, SkullConduct can identify each and every one of us by the unique way bone conducts sound through each person’s skull.  Bone conduction has already been implemented as a sound transmission technology in several consumer devices like Bluetooth, bone anchored hearing aids, and specialized communication systems designed for things like diving or loud environments.

Only in its infancy, SkullConduct currently relies on modified Google Glass eyewear equipped with a speaker.  Using Gaussian white noise, chosen because it covers all frequency bands that may be affected by a person’s unique skull characteristics, the team passes these sound waves through the skull using said speaker.  The unique differences in the frequencies that come back are then picked up by a mic and analyzed in real time using the onboard computer found in Google Glass.  With this unique biometric marker, our heads will effectively take the place of all conventional passwords.  


While at a glance this seems like a great way to keep us safer, the dubious and/or more intrusive applications for this technology far outweigh the benefits.

Real Time Tracking of Everyone -- AKA Mass Surveillance


Big Brother


If this biometric can identify us with an already 97% success rate, then what stops the powers that be from broadcasting sound waves in cities, in the future, and measuring the results in real time?


What we’re looking at is a non-evasive form of tracking that will undoubtedly surpass facial recognition in the near future.  With facial recognition, you need line of sight and you can also cover your face, but it’s much harder to try and block ambient sound waves that may not even be audible to the human ear as the technology evolves a few years from now.

George Orwell warned us of these intrusions on our collective privacy way back in 1949.  While his book ‘1984’ told us to be weary of “Big Brother”, it was near impossible to have foreseen just how invasive our authoritarian state would become.




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