Security experts recommend enabling two-factor authentication to make your accounts as hack-proof as possible. Sometimes that means receiving one-time verification codes via a text message. Other times it might mean swiping your finger across a sensor.
NEC thinks verifying your identity is something that can be done without any extra effort on your part. That’s why they built a pair of biometric earbuds.
The wireless buds, which look very similar to Samsung’s Gear Icon X, authenticate a wearer by utilizing otoacoustics. There’s a good chance that you’ve seen otoacoustic technology in action before — if you’ve ever taken a newborn in for a hearing screening test, for example.
The process is sort of like SONAR. A sound is played into their ear canal and it bounces back. In a hearing test, an embedded microphone listens for the echo. If one is detected the baby passes the test.
NEC’s headphones utilize an embedded microphone, too, but they aren’t just looking for an echo. They look at subtle variations in the signal that occur due to the unique differences in our ears. The signal changes subtly as it bounces back, which the earbuds then use to verify the wearer’s identity.
How accurate are they? NEC says the otoacoustic tech in these earbuds has a success rate of over 99%. Fingerprint sensors can get even closer to a perfect 100%, but they’re not as convenient as a pair of earbuds you’re already wearing. They also can’t be fooled by fake fingerprints and they’re not as likely to be thrown off by environmental factors.