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Nose Biometrics

April 8, 2010

Your nose may be an efficient and useful form of ID.


Sniffing out criminal noses. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists are developing ways to identify people by physical features, like intricate patterns in the eyes. But some of these techniques require the person to step close and stand still – which criminals may not do willingly. That’s one reason why engineer Adrian Evans, of the University of Bath in England, turned to the nose.

ADRIAN EVANS (University of Bath):
Noses are very hard to cover up without drawing suspicion to yourself. So they’re actually quite easy to capture with non-cooperative subjects.

He and his colleague Adrian Moorhouse analyzed 3-D images of 40 people. By measuring just three specific aspects of a nose, they were able to narrow down the possible matches much faster than a full face-recognition scan. The tradeoff is that it’s harder to make a one-to-one match. So the system may be best used to quickly flag suspects for further scrutiny. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.