Creepy ID

Catching up with The Night Manager a couple of days ago, I was slightly creeped out (maybe because I thought he was going to be discovered!) by a scene where the eponymous lead has an iris scan taken via a phone app as part of a biometric authentication protocol.


A later scene uses the scan via an app on someone else’s phone to authorise a transaction:


I wasn’t convinced such idents would be possibly using a phone, but it seems such apps have been around for a couple of years, as for example the IriTech ForYourIrisOnly app:

So – fingerprint idents on phones, and now iris scans. How about DNA? Well, if you have £1000 to hand and can do a bit of wet stuff extracting a DNA sample, it seems that portable DNA profilers are available, such as Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ MinION, “a portable device for molecular analyses that is driven by nanopore technology. It is adaptable for the analysis of DNA, RNA, proteins or small molecules”.


And finally, it seems that Google is experimenting with voice recognition triggered authentication for a new mobile payment scheme: Hands Free Payments.

The Hands Free app uses Bluetooth low energy, WiFi, location services, and other sensors on your phone to detect whether you are near a participating store. This enables you to pay hands-free, without fumbling with your phone or opening the Hands Free app.

When you are ready to pay at a store, simply tell the cashier “I’ll pay with Google”. The cashier confirms your identity, using your initials and the photo you added to your Hands Free profile.

So this presumably combines location based geofencing and proximity sensing to locate you and enable the payment option, and voice recognition to trigger the payment? (It also suggests there is a visual check by the cashier, who is presumably presented with your photo that is raised by some combination of the personal device/voice recognition events?)

By the by, it’s worth noting that voice recognition is becoming a commodity component in consumer facing authentication schemes – Barclays has been using it with wealthy customers for years and now it seems to be hitting the High Street retail banks: HSBC rolls out voice and touch ID security for bank customers.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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