New Software Turns Any Capacitive Touchscreen Into A Biometric Scanner

By Chris Mills on at

In an effort to fix our broken password system, manufacturers are looking to the world of biometrics, sticking fingerprint scanners into everything from photocopiers to, um, school buses. Now, a team of Yahoo researchers might’ve come up with a way to extend biometric recognition to anything with a touchscreen.

To identify the ridges and depressions that make up a fingerprint, you need a fairly high-resolution scanner — something a capacitive touchscreen most certainly isn’t. But, as the researchers found, you can take the principle of fingerprinting, and apply it to much bigger body parts, which have a better-defined topology.

In practise, that means pressing your ears or knuckles against a phone screen. The capacitive sensors in the screen are able to map out the relevant body part, check that it’s your ear pressed up against the screen, and unlock the call. The team claims that in their limited study of 12 participants, they managed to reach an accuracy of 99.52 per cent.

‘Bodyprint’ will need to be tested at a wider scale before anyone can truly declare it safe — who knows, maybe 3 in 100 people have the same weirdly-shaped knuckles from cracking them all the goddamn time. But if it pans out, bodyprint recognition could be a cheap and effective way to secure everyone’s devices. Not to mention, a good excuse to punch your iPhone from time to time. [Planet Biometrics]