New headphones will use the ear canal as an ID check

This technology could be used as an alternative to fingerprint sensors

Japanese firm NEC has announced that it is developing earbuds that can confirm the owner's identity. The technology works by playing a sound and checking how it resonates in the wearer's ear canal. This biometric check is an alternative to a fingerprint sensor.

NEC said it will make the products using the earbud ID check before the end of 2018. The company says its earbuds could be used to complete an ID test in about one second.

Providing further information on how it will work, the company explained that the earphones need to be fitted with a microphone to record the wave forms generated by a short burst of audio noise as it was reflected around the eardrum. The size and shape of each person’s ears are unique. The resulting data from this short process will identify the owner.

NEC says it believes this technique would act as a reliable check more than 99% of the time.