Science Podcasts

Special episode

Thu, 26th Jun 2014

Can we use faces as passwords?

(c)  totumweb - flickr

Passwords are a tricky business, with thousands of people forgetting them every day, and some being hacked or guessed. The University of York has tested the idea of using recognisable faces which are unique to us, instead of written passwords, as proof of our identity. Rob Jenkins, a psychologist who lead the study, tells Kat Arney more...

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Facial recognition technology depends on facial constancy (ever shaved off a beard, lost weight, had dentures, bought new glasses, or got a sunburn?) and a whole lot of pretty flaky algorithms. Its hit rate in immigration control has been, to say the least, pathetic, despite megabucks of investment. And immigration control is not a high security task: less than 0.1% of people presenting at passport control represent a threat, whereas 100% of anyone who knows your password or PIN, is a threat.

Fingerprint readers are cheap and reliable.  Except, alas, for double-bass players like me, who have no fingerprints! Major embarrassment every time I visit the USA! alancalverd, Fri, 27th Jun 2014

The method outlined in the story does not involve artificial intelligence :
it exploits the hard-wired ability* of humans to recognise people they know.

Prosopagnosia ] RD, Fri, 27th Jun 2014

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