Keeping track of the eight hundred million passwords that we all seem to need for a normal life nowadays (that include at least one capital letter, one number, and one non-alphanumeric character: gee, this is a totally normal thing to remember with complete accuracy…) can be stressful. Add to this the increasing presence of wearable tech, and we’ve got trouble — without a keyboard to input your doozy of a password, basically anyone could pick up your, say, Seeing-AI-enabled sunglasses and access everything.
But what if there were a “password” that you wouldn’t have to remember, and would also be so integrated into the wearable experience it would be basically seamless? Researchers, who looked to the human head before with “brainprint” technology, are now investigating more physical options. A team from the University of Stuttgart, Saarland University, and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics (Germany) posits that individual human skulls make a unique sound when echoing back ultrasonic waves — and that that sound can be used as a password to grant only one wearer access to a given item of wearable tech.
The team dubs the innovation “SkullConduct:”
“A biometric system that uses bone conduction of sound through the users skull for secure user identification and authentication on eyewear computers. Bone conduction has been used before as a transmission concept in different computer devices, such as hands-free headsets, [… and] bone anchored hearing aids. […] Bone conduction has only recently become available on eyewear computers, such as Google Glass. […] SkullConduct uses the microphone readily available on many of these devices to analyse the frequency response of the sound after it travelled through the user’s skull. […] Individual differences in Skull anatomy result in highly person-specific frequency responses that can be used as a biometric.”
On top of increasing the security of these new devices, the SkullConduct innovation also acts as extraordinary evidence of the reach of technology in our lives. I’m thrilled at the idea that we may finally remove the last hurdle of effort — password entry — from our full integration with our devices and tech experience. And we’ll do it with something so uniquely human as the bone structure of our skulls.