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.”