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Future Tech: 

Death of the password: 5 weird biometrics from the future

Nobody really likes passwords. Despite constant warnings, many people still pick simple numerical combinations for convenience, and – even more worryingly – repeat them accross multiple accounts. Meanwhile, the good ones are impossible to remember without a password manager, and even those are under threat from hackers.

It’s no surprise then, that biometric technology in increasingly being adopted by major technology firms, with Apple and Samsung leading the charge for smartphones with in-built biometric scanners. But if you thought biometric tech was only about fingerprints and retinas, then these possible password replacements from the future may surprise you.

Five weird biometrics from the future;

1. Heartbeat


Heartbeat ‘passwords’ aren’t so much from the future, in that they’re already being trialled by banks in Britain in Canada. Healthy heartbeats might sound roughly the same to us, but the sized and shape of our organs supposedly render them unique enough to accurately identify us. With the right technology in place, then, they can also be used to replace the passwords on certain accounts and devices.

In order to gain access you must first measure your heartbeat using a wearable like Nymi, which straps around your wrist and records your pulse. It’s thought that heartbeats are harder to fake than fingerprints and, as Nymi’s creator explains to Wired, whether your heart beats fast or slow, “electrically it reads the same.” Now, if they could combine this technology into an existing wearable like, say, the Apple Watch, rather than a separate wristband, we might just be in business.

2. Brainwaves


If we can control iPlayer using only our minds, then what’s to stop us replacing the password with the might of our brains too? It sounds far-fetched, but a new study released this month found that we can in fact be identified by our ‘brainprint,’ analyzing how our minds can respond to certain word combinations with 94% accuracy.

The advantage of using brainprints as authentication is that they’re potentially ‘cancelable’. In other words, where we only have ten fingerprints at our disposal, if a brainprint was to be compromised it might be reset by the user simply enough. It’s a nice concept in theory, although the reality of identifying individual brainwaves involves wearing a wacky contraption filled with electrodes like the one pictured above.

3. Ears


A new patent filed by Amazon this month wants to move smartphones past PIN codes and fingerprints, and put all the power in our lugholes. According to Sky, researchers have described the ear as one of the most reliable identifying biometrics as, whatever sad changes take place on rest of our face, our trusty lobes will remain unchanged over time. Save for a few hairs, of course.

Amazon’s idea is to use their phone’s front-facing camera to scan your ear as you take a call, granting you access to receive it and keeping out any strangers who may have picked up your device.

4. Breath


While the introduction of contactless payments has saved us time at the checkout, a group of Swiss security researchers want to make paying for groceries as easy as breathing out. In a 2013 report, the team found that a sophisticated breathalyzer could distinguish one person from another, and a technology of this kind could eventually be used in smartphones as a form of two-factor authentication.

5. Sweat 


Forogtten your password? Don’t sweat it, or actually do – as this future biometric idea is all about collecting your precious perspiration. A recent article by Outside Magazine claims that sweat-detecting wearables could soon replace heart-rate monitors as the dominant fitness tracker, and it’s suggested that a similar device could also be used to identify us.

Tech Crunch writes: “From hydration levels and electrolyte balance to lactate threshold and glucose, sweat has a lot to say. It seems inevitable that someone will come up with a “sweatprint” soon enough, so why not let your IoT sweat whiffer tell Jamba Juice they can sell you that smoothie?”

We can think of a few reasons, and if it comes to wringing out a sweatband to pay for fruit drinks, then maybe we’ll stick with the password after all.

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