Cars of the future may use the driver’s rear end as identity protection, through a system developed at Japan’s Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology. A report surfaced earlier this month that researchers there developed a system that can recognize a person by the backside when the person takes a seat. The system performs a precise measurement of the person’s posterior, its contours and the way the person applies pressure on the seat. The developers say that in lab tests, the system was able to recognize people with 98 percent accuracy.
That’s not good enough. If you can’t drive your car one time out of 50 when the chances of your car being stolen are only once out of, say, ten years you are going to disable the feature.
Also 98% accuracy number was in lab tests. I have to wonder if those lab tests included people having different things in their pockets. If you normally drive with a wallet in your rear pocket and you hop in your car after a day at the beach with your wallet in a bag thrown into the back seat what are the odds then? Or if you change your carry gun, or move the holster a little to one side or the other. And it is going to have to adapt to weight gain and loss over time.
Biometrics have a lot of problems. It’s really tough to get the accuracy needed for everyday use because characteristics of people change. And the basic concept has two fundamental, closely related, security flaws.
One is that your biometric “key” is not well hidden. You leave a set of fingerprints on the glass at the restaurant, on door knobs, and on the keyboard at the library. And image of your iris can be captured with a telephoto lens while you walk down the sidewalk.
The other flaw is that in any secure system you must have a way of repudiating a set of credentials if they have been compromised. How do you repudiate an image of your iris or your fingerprints? At most you only have two eyes and ten fingerprints. And there are lots of gummy bears.
Biometric researchers attempt to block access to these flaws by performing “liveness” tests. The guys in the black hats are keeping up and my guess is, except for some very expensive solutions, they always will.