Your skull has a unique ‘fingerprint’, and SkullConduct lets you use it as a password

It’s easy to create a powerful password. It’s easier still to forget it. Without a password manager, we’re often left answering personal security questions about our mother’s maiden name or high school calculus teacher to authorize access. But even these methods fail. Personally identifiable information is no way to secure an account.

Unique biological markers, however, have made our bodies the password managers of the future. Some smartphones have granted users access through face and fingerprint recognition for years, though the technology still proves vulnerable to hacks. Now, researchers from Saarland University and the University of Stuttgart in Germany want to bypass fingerprints and faulty memory, and instead let you access your devices with your skull.

By tapping into features already available on wearables like Google Glass, the researchers have developed an innovative way to identify users by the unique qualities of their skulls. Since each of skull is marginally different in shape, density, and size, each one resonates sound in a particular pattern. SkullConduct sends a sound pattern into a person’s head, where the vibrations rebound off the skull and return a sound pattern that’s unique to the wearer.

SkullConduct exploits Google Glass’s built-in microphone to register the sounds and the built-in “bone conduction speaker,” which is conventionally used to transmit sounds through the skull and to the inner ear like some hearing aids do.

The SkullConduct method is promising but not yet perfect. For one, it only works with wearables that have microphones and bone conduction speakers — and there simply aren’t that many products that boast both. Furthermore, in a ten-participant trial, the researchers were able to identify a wearer’s identify with 97 percent accuracy — but unfortunately the trial was conducted without any background noise, which hardly replicates real life. However, SkullConduct creator Andreas Bulling and his team recognize these shortcomings and intent to test their technique in everyday scenarios, including making the product compatible with more common devices such as smartphones.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Our favorite fitness trackers make it fun to keep moving

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.

These are the worst passwords of 2018. Is yours on this list?

Do you use a bad password that makes your online accounts easy to break into? SplashData has compiled a list of the top 100 worst passwords for 2018 and there are quite a few listings that were carryovers from prior lists.

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.