Forget digital fingerprints, iris recognition and voice identification, the next big thing in biometrics is your wrinkly elbow. Just as a fingerprints and other body parts are unique to us as individuals and so can be used to prove who we are, so too are our elbows. Computer scientist Eric Praline of the University of Housinge, has now demonstrated how an elbow wrinkle scan could be used to identify us for a range of cutting-edge applications.
The approach is based on infra-red scanners located in chair or automobile armrests and could be used to quickly register and identify people in a moving car as they approach passport control or in airport lounges for instance or as they sit in their offices to begin their day’s work.
Praline has tested the approach and achieved accuracy of around 97 percent, this coupled with other factors such as having the correct heart rate, sitting in the right chair or tied to other biometrics such as the topography of your rear-end and earwax analysis could be used to prevent deception and fraud. Rubber fingers can be used to dupe fingerprint systems. Documents can be forged. “But most people walk around with their elbows covered most of the time so the odds of elbow spoofing are quite low,” says Praline.
When asked how this new modality might stand up against the relentless health-and-beauty industry assault on wrinkly elbows, Praline remained confident that elbows are the “killer app” biometrics have been waiting for. “While various creams, ointments and unguents exist to ameliorate the effects of aging upon the skin of the human elbow, those treatments only serve to reduce the prominence of the elbow wrinkles, not to eliminate them altogether. Sit tight. The days of ubiquitous elbow scanners are closer than many are prepared to admit.”
A dangerous and highly adaptive criminal escaped from the regional holding facility in Morgantown, West Virginia today after using a rubber eyeball to hack the facility’s iris-based biometric technology.
|“Rubber Eyes” McCarthy
The escapee, Thomas McCarthy (pictured), was able to execute his dastardly scheme based upon a bizarre series of coincidences and his genius at exploiting them.
At first, authorities were concerned that an officer at the facility had been careless with his latent iris prints, leaving them strewn all over the jail for any semi-literate reprobate to pick up and do with as he pleased.
Further investigation, however revealed that the flaw in the jail’s security lay in the fact that the maintenance staff had succeeded in enrolling a rubber ball that looked like an eyeball in the biometric system. As long as anyone had the rubber ball, they could go about their business of maintaining the facilities while also protecting their privacy. As one staff member put it, “Where I am at any given time is none of the chief’s gal-dern business so long as the floors are swept.”
The keenly observant McCarthy, however, noticed the staff’s subterfuge and, with the aid of his girlfriend on the outside and Alibaba.com, was able to obtain a quantity of rubber eyeballs identical to the one the staff had enrolled. The rest is history.
Despite McCarthy’s escape, facility chief Strother Martin is looking on the bright side. “Since the minimum order for rubber eyeballs at Alibaba is 5000 pieces, we can in some ways count ourselves lucky that things weren’t much worse. If old Rubber Eyes had been better at sharing, the whole place might be empty,” he said.
Smartcard enthusiast Will Stephenson had this response: “You’re all stupid. None of this would have happened with smartcards.”
At the time of this writing, McCarthy’s whereabouts are unknown.