You’re buying a pair of jeans. At the register, instead of reaching for your wallet or phone, you pull back your hair. The cashier holds a camera up to your ear. The camera confirms a match to a photo in a database, all of which is linked to your bank. Transaction complete.
This futuristic scenario is actually not so far-fetched, and it’s coming sooner than you might think. Research on biometric tech has amped up, leading to mobile apps that read various unique-to-you body parts to help verify your identity, raising all kinds of security and privacy concerns, and it’s still an open question as to how government and manufacturers are going to address it all.
But back to that ear scan. “Ears are unique,” says Michael Boczek, the President and CEO of Descartes Biometrics, a company that specializes in mobile ear detection security apps. “It’s stable and enduring, which means it changes very little over the course of one’s life. That’s also true of fingerprints, but less true of facial recognition.”