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United Kingdom Biotech Science

Nose Scanners — the New Face of Biometrics? 115

An anonymous reader writes "Forget fingerprints and ID cards, this photo story shows how the latest thing in biometrics is nose scanning! Bath university researchers have claimed that the nose will soon be able to be used as a way of identifying a person. Apparently the 'PhotoFace system captures a 3D image of a person's face by taking several photos lit from different angles to throw shadows on the face and then building a model of facial features. The software determined that there are six main nose shapes: Roman, Greek, Nubian, Hawk, Snub and Turn-up.' Some cool pictures make this worth a click — but what happens if a person breaks their nose?!"
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Nose Scanners — the New Face of Biometrics?

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  • Before you know it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @09:28AM (#31481056) Homepage

    Biometrics are going to use your DNA for verification, which is the only fool-proof system. I mean, come on, how would you fake someone else's DNA? ::cough::GATTACA::cough::

  • will they scan also the inside of the nose ?!? It would be very awful to analyze...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Seriously. Wow. What a waste of energy and resources. It's called a nose mold, costs like ten cents. Security theater at it's finest.
    • It might work for some, but it could never work for others. Can you see Jimmy Durante with a prosthetic turn-up nose?
      • by Kiaser Zohsay ( 20134 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:15AM (#31481530)

        Tried to find a link, but its apparently just too obscure, so I'll go from memory. Carl Reiner was presented some sort of lifetime achievement award by Mel Brooks, who played it as if Reiner had been a total fake all those years, and this was the last straw. The camera cut to shots of protesters with signs reading "Reiner isn't funny", and then Mel accuses Reiner of forcing him to wear a fake Jewish nose. Brooks then proceeds to remove his fake rubber nose, revealing a decidedly less ethnic one underneath, pointing at it and shouting "I have a gentile nose!".

        Of course the gentile nose was a fake one on top of his actual nose. But if Mel Brooks can rock not one but two fake noses long enough to present an award, then airport security should be a piece of matzo.

        • From http://www.myjewishlearning.com/culture/2/Film/American_and_European/Hollywood_and_Judaism/Mel_Brooks.shtml [slashdot.org]

          found a bunch of links using the terms 'carl reiner mel brooks false nose'

          Flash forward to the April 1991 American Comedy Awards, a show honoring Carl Reiner with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Steve Martin introduces Brooks as Reiner's "illegitimate son" and asks for a few words about his longtime friend and collaborator. Addressing the star-studded audience as "Ladies and Jews," Brooks's voice grows steadily more strident as he indignantly castigates Reiner first for not being funny and second for forcing him to assume a false identity: For 25 years he pretended that he was a Jew when he was really a gentile from Waco, Texas. (The real Waco Kid?) Finally, Brooks rips off his "false" nose, begins yelling in a Texas drawl, and vows never to utter "any more of that Jew talk."

          A few moments later, a convulsed Reiner thanks Brooks for channeling into humor his deep-seated anger over having to pay homage to someone less talented. Brooks builds all his films on his indignation, attacking serious topics such as bigotry, intolerance, and greed through comedy

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by skine ( 1524819 )

      I would assume that part would be taken care of in thermal imaging.

  • This is really a bad idea. The nose is actually one of the few parts of the body that grows (and changes) your entire life. Never mind swelling from colds, etc.
    • The nose is actually one of the few parts of the body that grows (and changes) your entire life.

      Your identification card is updated on a fairly regular basis already.

    • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGrossNO@SPAMyahoo.ca> on Monday March 15, 2010 @09:40AM (#31481198)

      Two words....

      Michael Jackson

      nuff said...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by 1s44c ( 552956 )

        Two words....

        Michael Jackson

        nuff said...

        Actually his nose is quite stable now. It's likely to remain in its current state long after the rest of his body has decayed to nothing.

        Maybe in some future time someone or something will dig up his remains and wonder what all the extra parts were for.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Opportunist ( 166417 )

          Can you imagine some archelogist digging him up in a few millenia and wondering what kind of shaman he must be? I mean, religious mutilation, various artificial parts inserted in the body...

          Must've been a really weird cult of human sacrifice and deification of silicon parts. Some successor of Däniken would certainly claim it's clearly a sign that silicon based aliens were worshipped here by us trying to convert one of us into one of them...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Nick Number ( 447026 )

          Actually his nose is quite stable now. It's likely to remain in its current state long after the rest of his body has decayed to nothing.

          Maybe in some future time someone or something will dig up his remains and wonder what all the extra parts were for.

          Or, in a zany twist, they might mistake the surviving fragments of a Woody Allen movie as a documentary and elect Mr. Jackson's remains as The Leader.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger ( 8636 )

      This is really a bad idea.

      Welcome to the always exciting and perpetually almost ready for prime-time world of biometrics.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tepples ( 727027 )
      At least people will be able to tell how honest you've been since your last ID card. If the shape of your nose has changed too much, you've been telling lies.
    • Fingerprints can be faked, it is well known with scotch tape and talc powder, noses change over time, and are only useful to weight other factors. Thats why we also scan your tongue, your eyes, and of course your butt. ( Just drop your pants and sit on the butt scanner - no, it's not a photocopier. )
      - With apologies to Monsters vs Aliens

    • The other part that keeps growing is the ear and they have been taking ear prints for a long time now. Usually they are taken from suspects after forensics has found an impression on something like a door or window.
  • Imagine Hollywood movie studios requiring this. Or California's gov.
  • by srussia ( 884021 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @09:32AM (#31481100)
    Add a CowboyNeal option and you've got the next Slashdot poll.
  • by ekgringo ( 693136 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @09:32AM (#31481104)
    For the first time ever, scientists at the Slashdot institute have actually managed to produce an article summary that is longer than the article linked, as well as providing new information not available in the article itself! How is this possible?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is actually a good sign. Linking to single stories is fine, but aggregating stories and providing a complete picture in the summary is better than simply picking the juiciest quotes and pretending like it's any sort of value add.

    • by earthman ( 12244 )

      It's possible because you only read the first of four pages of the article. The four different photos each have a different text beneath them.

    • Shame on me for having to double-check... I should have known it's definitely not a kdawson post.

  • Another stupid idea. Next is the ear scanner, the hair scanner, the tooth scanner (all of the above is out in the public, for someone to make a replica of any part of your body that is out in the open, is just a matter of time). Then they'll move to more private areas I guess and then the internal organs, which will of-course go through a phase of vaginal and anal scanners.

    This is dumb. Of-course Michael Jackson could use this better than others, he changed his nose shape more often than other people cha

  • This would finally have enabled Douglas Adams to use the awesome power of his nose for the forces of good.

    He had a famously large hooter.

    See this link [tdv.com] for Douglas's own views on his nose.

  • Rhinoplasty makes this pointless.

    Well done folks... Well done.
    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

      Rhinoplasty makes this pointless.

      Rhinoplasty makes this ideal, especially for those who may need to have their identity changed for their own safety, unlike fingerprints or gods forbid a retinal pattern.

      It will however lead to more stringent federal regulation of the practice because you can never be allowed to hide your identity from the government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @09:52AM (#31481334)

    I'm Tycho Brahe, you insensitive clod!

    • by mangu ( 126918 )

      I'm Tycho Brahe, you insensitive clod!

      Then you are a terrorist trying to circumvent an important security measure.

      You will tell us everything you know, even if we have to waterboard you until your bladder blows up.

    • The 411 [wikipedia.org] for those who are curious...

      While studying at University of Rostock in Germany, on 29 December 1566 Tycho lost part of his nose in a duel with fellow Danish nobleman Manderup Parsbjerg. Tycho had earlier quarrelled with Parsbjerg at a wedding dance at professor Lucas Bacmeister's house on the 10th, and again on the 27th. The duel two days later (in the dark) resulted in Tycho losing the bridge of his nose. From this event Tycho became interested in medicine and alchemy. For the rest of his life,

    • I'm Tycho Brahe, you insensitive clod!

      Sorry sir, but we can't allow you on this flight. Our system identifies you as the evil Lee Marvin from Cat Ballou.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Life just keeps piling on for the poor suffering adolescent geek. Now when he develops a giant zit on his nose, he doesn't just have to worry about the derision of his peers, but his nose-scanning locker won't open.
  • Will people now have to get clearance from the NSA/FBI/DOD in order to get a nose job?
  • by evilandi ( 2800 ) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:02AM (#31481422) Homepage

    Lemme get this straight. Bath, a town internationally known for its Rugby Football [wikipedia.org] team, is proposing we use noses for biometric ID?

    Rugby being the game for which the phrase "full contact sport" is not so much an understatement as a warning of imminent loss of life? Like American Football only without the pads and helmets? The game where a broken nose is probably the most common injury?

    The Bath Rugby team probably have only one intact nose between all 15 players.

    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:37AM (#31481844) Homepage

      The Bath Rugby team probably have only one intact nose between all 15 players.

      And they stole it from an opposing prop forward.

      • goon 1 "My prop forward has no nose!"
        goon 2 "Your prop forward has no nose?"
        goon 1 "My prop forward has no nose!"
        goon 2 "How does he smell?"

        Fill in the rest your self.
    • In case they want to do ears, rugby players used to have them ripped off before they started taping them to their heads them, now cauliflower ear is a more common injury.
    • My thoughts exactly. As an American who has only recently started playing the sport of rugby football, even my limited experience has painfully demonstrated how reconfigurable the human nose is.

      As a sidenote, being kicked in the face while laying at the bottom of a ruck sure does make you feel alive =)

  • by RealErmine ( 621439 ) <commerce AT wordhole DOT net> on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:05AM (#31481446)
    I'd rather see the words: "Please insert nose to verify identity." than "Processing colonic map." on the ATM of the future.
  • Odd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alarindris ( 1253418 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:09AM (#31481482)
    Why don't they just scan the whole face?

    As if the nose were more unique than the rest of the face plus the nose.
    • The nose is fairly invariant under changes of glasses, hair, make up and so on. At least this was the reasoning in another article I read on the topic.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:22AM (#31481608) Homepage Journal
    A nose by any other name would still smell
  • by drunken_boxer777 ( 985820 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:25AM (#31481666)

    Come on, TSA!

    You've already got the millimeter body scanners rolling out across the US and rest of the world. Kick it up a notch! Go straight for the biometric genital scanning!

    Pfft, privacy. You don't need privacy. You need safety. Now drop your drawers!

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:30AM (#31481722)

    Don't let the security-crazed among us start thinking about what other stickout-y parts of the human anatomy they could photograph from six angles, digitize and put on our passports. All to keep the children and kittens safe, of course.

  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:33AM (#31481774) Homepage
    Seriously. No one cares for biometrics. Aside from making for very sick dismemberment jokes in spy movies, biometrics haven't done much to go mainstream.
  • Seriously?! Don't they know that a nose job is the second most popular plastic surgery?
  • Oh great. Now I'm going to have to deal with Cyrano de Bergerac being on the no-fly list.
  • I mean look at how his nose "morphed" over the years! I think some of the shapes it went through weren't even human, not according to this software.

  • by EriktheGreen ( 660160 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @11:25AM (#31482412) Journal

    There was an old cartoon from back in the 80s when the first really painful desktop security measures were put in place... back when people still ran unpatched OSs and downloading updates (via dial-up modem) wasn't common.

    I think it was "The Fifth Wave" series. Wish I could find it to post a link.

    Basically, it was a manager turning to an employee looking stubborn at his computer terminal and saying "Now c'mon, Bob, you know nose scanning is our best defense against unauthorized computer use!" The nose scanners were cups on thick cords hanging from the ceiling like airline oxygen masks.

    Biometrics is a cute marketing trick, but it's no substitute for good security process. That's why I like signing in to my laptop using the "fingerprint" of a small area on the underside of my scrotum. Any legitimate reason to doff one's pants at work is good. "I'm just logging in." or "Whoops, there goes my screensaver. Zzzzzzzip...."


  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @11:40AM (#31482606) Homepage Journal

    Did the submitter read the story?

    While able to process images more quickly than conventional biometric identification techniques such as whole face recognition, the system's recognition rates were comparatively low and researchers recommend it as an addition to existing biometrics rather than a replacement.

  • We have many ways of identifying people; biometrics is only one category. Every means of identifying a person is hackable in some way. I would feel much safer if authentication were based on multiple sources. In particular, GPS tracking, bluetooth presence, facial recognition, each time you enter a password, all should be used to build a continuous track of your location, with confidence ratings as you move between various protocols. Credit card purchases, boarding an airplane, logging in at work; all shoul

  • The nose plays.

  • Maybe we should patent the brain scan for ID since that will be the next idea?

  • Seriously — the very tip — kinda like a rabbit does. (It is a real "chick-magnet", BTW.)

    When posing for an ID-picture, I always move it a little bit so that it looks a different on the picture from what is is in normal (relaxed) position. I don't think, the described method would identify me from those pictures...

    You can train yourself to do it, BTW — an hour or two in front of the mirror and you'll "get it".

  • It doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @12:42PM (#31483504) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't really matter what the biometric is of, the whole idea has been shown to fail. It turns out that a key feature necessary for authentication is that a credential can be revoked and a new one issued whenever it has been compromised. That is just not practical for biometrics. If it can be measured, someone can capture that measurement and create a fake.

    As shown on Mythbusters, the more expensive the fingerprint reader was, the easier it was to fake it out, but all of them failed one way or another.

    If we start lining up and shooting marketing departments, we might one day be able to produce a biometric system that would only fall for very difficult surgical duplications (and so raise the bar quite high), but such systems would likely cost several orders of magnitude more than other equally secure methods that we already have available. Meanwhile, in those few cases where the access is important enough to resort to the surgical approach and someone does so, we're right back to the inability to issue a new ID.

  • Broken nose... Lose fingers to a saw... go blind...

    It simply stands as a standard that there is no standard that is 100% effective or unbreakable or loss-proof. Things can only be "More Secure" or "Less Secure". Generally the more secure they are, the easier it is to lose them as well.

    The only major difference between passwords and biometrics is that one is knowledge-based and one is physical. Neither are fully secure. There is the difference between how easy it is to potentially steal or duplicate some

  • Wouldn't work for the likes of Cher and Heidi Montag. Their plastic surgeries change their identity every few weeks !
  • > but what happens if a person breaks their nose?!"

    You just need to phone DHS and reactivate your face.

  • ...scanning a person's ass cleavage for identity purposes ? Recent research has shown that ass cleavage is in shape, length and depth absolutely unique to any person. With the added advantage the ass cleavage has over the nose: it cannot break.
  • ...enough said.
  • > but what happens if a person breaks their nose?"

    Segmented curvilinear correction. A broken nose only changes shape in the broken spot, almost always the bridge. The majority is intact. The database results will have those hits that match, say, 5 of the 6 measures. Those will then be subjected to 'morphing' within the constraints of the average (more likely within the standard deviation) of how bridges that most often fit with that nose type are bent and in what way. The Segment that doesn't fit will ha

  • Doesn’t matter if it’s any body part, or a card or anything “that you have”. As long as there is no accompanying “that you know”, it’s insecure. Period.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.