Every spy movie has a central plot point involving the use of biometric authentication, such as fingerprints and iris scans. However, fingerprint verification and facial recognition are now common features on many smartphones, and they’re not just for spies anymore. Here comes the breath biometrics: sniffing out your true identity.
For the first time, scientists have discovered that the smell of your breath could be used as a biometric security measure. Researchers from Kyushu University’s Institute for Materials Chemistry and Engineering and the University of Tokyo have developed an olfactory sensor that can identify people by analyzing the compounds in their breath, according to a report published in Chemical Communications.
While this “artificial nose,” built with a 16-channel sensor array, had an average accuracy of more than 97%, it was able to authenticate up to 20 individuals.
Biometric authentication is essential in today’s information and technology-driven world. Machines can use a wide range of biometrics to identify you, from fingerprints, palm prints, and voices to ear acoustics and veins in your fingers.
“The unique physical characteristics of each person are the basis for these methods, but they are not foolproof.
Injuries can alter a person’s physical appearance, making it easier for others to imitate them”, the study’s first author, Chaiyanut Jirayupat, explains this. “A new class of biometric authentication, essentially using your unique chemical composition to verify your identity, has recently emerged.”
Human breath is detected by a variety of sensors, each of which detects a specific range of compounds. Once the data is analyzed by a neural network, it is then used to identify the person. Percutaneous gas—compounds released from the skin—has been one such target.
These methods, however, have limitations due to the skin’s inability to produce enough volatile compounds for detection by machines.
It was then decided that human breath could be used in place of the machine’s air supply.
While skin volatiles have a concentration of a few parts per billion or trillion, compounds exhaled through the breath can have a concentration as high as parts per million, says Jirayupat. Breath analysis can currently tell you if a person has cancer, diabetes, or even COVID-19.
Breath samples were first analyzed to discover which compounds could be used for biometric authentication. There were a total of 28 substances that were found to be viable alternatives.
So they created a sensor array with sixteen channels, each of which could identify an individual set of chemical compounds, using this data as a foundation. Each person’s breath was then sent to an artificial intelligence system, which analyzed it and created a unique profile for each person.
They begin by inhaling into a collection container. An olfactory sensor is attached to the bag to determine the composition of a person’s breath. Compound concentrations are used to identify an individual using machine learning.
The researchers found that when they tested the system on the breath samples of six different people, it had an average accuracy of 97.8 percent in identifying the subjects. When the sample size increased to 20, the high level of accuracy remained.
However, Jirayupat acknowledges that more work is required before it appears on our next smartphone.
“In this study, we required our subjects to fast for six hours prior to testing,” Yanagida concludes. We’ve laid a solid foundation for ourselves. The next step is to enhance this technology so that it can be used with any diet.
Fortunately, our current study found that increasing the number of sensors and collecting more data can help overcome this challenge. For more in-depth information about the topic, check this external article link.
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