Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

That's not me is it?...anti-theft device...idea #25/100...

The Guardian reports a story about Omron (Japan), who have an application for facial recognition that works on a mobile as an anti-theft device. The idea is that the user stores a self-portrait and then re-identifies using the camera each time they want to use the phone.

I can just imagine the not-in-the-lab accuracy rate...

Rest assured, if the accuracy isn't 99.99%, then users will switch it off.

Surely a possible alternative that would statistically be more accurate is to use a combination of long-term vocal and dialling recognition. In other words, the device continually monitors the user's voice and their calling habits, which enables a potentially reliable signature to be constructed (interesting area for research?).

Any deviation from the signature would cause the device to be disabled. Such a method could be entirely non-challenging, which means, unlike the photo-id, the user isn't actively asked to identify his- or her-self, which is a guaranteed usability hurdle. The signature technique simply works in the background and only becomes noticeable if the user's habits deviate from the signature.

Of course, this wouldn't stop the device in its tracks after a theft. The device would take some time to notice the deviation, depending on how reactive the underlying algorithms are. But, it would certainly disable the device and make onward selling of stolen devices problematic.

Continual vocal recognition algorithms would also add a processing overhead. However, it is my sense that this could done at the vocoder level (in the voice compression firmware) and take advantage of the significant signal-processing apparatus already present in all mobiles. I have not researched about using voice compression vectors as inputs to voice recognition engines, but I am confident that this is possible and probably well researched.

If the device falsely detected a deviation from the signature, then a simple pass phrase could be used as a challenge. For added security, this could be combined with selecting a number from the address book.

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