Ear Acoustics

Ear Recognition is another innovation in NEC’s biometric authentication. NEC’s Ear Acoustic technology is based on the acoustic characteristics of the ears and identifies an individual based on the echo sound characteristics from the ear canal.

With the cooperation of Nagaoka University of Technology, NEC developed the Ear Acoustic Authentication, a biometric authentication technology using differing acoustic reflections from the shape of the human ear canal. It measures acoustic characteristics that represent the shape of a user’s ear canal.

This technology enables identity authentication simply by having the person wear earphones with a microphone. It identifies individuals by measuring the differences in the shapes of ear cavities with a sound that is inaudible to the human ear.

Who we work with

Currently, this technology has not been rolled out here in New Zealand so we are not yet working with any companies in-country. There are however a number of practical applications for Ear Recognition technology across a number of sectors. Here are some examples of the practical applications of Ear Recognition technology:

Identity checks in safety and security operations for:

The maintenance, control, and security of critical infrastructure facilities.
Streamlining operational efficiencies at medical establishments and call centres by means of hands-free authentication through smart earphones.
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If you are interested in finding out more about NEC’s Ear Acoustic technology and how it could be applied in your business, speak to one of the team today.


Key features and benefits of NEC’s Ear Recognition technology

Ear Recognition is a (unique) biometric identification and authentication solution that uses smart earphones that people are already very familiar with using and removes the need to touch anything in order to authenticate.

How it works
Smart earphones, which are also equipped with microphones, emit high-frequency (18 to 48 kHz) inaudible sound, which is then reflected from the ear canal and captured by the microphones. Analysis of the reflected sounds enables the characteristics of an individual’s ear canal to be determined.

Uses in-ear bud earphones – one of life’s commodity items
If earphones are lost or stolen they won’t authenticate with anyone other than those who have been enrolled. Ear Recognition technology also offers stress-free implementation for users thanks to its familiar format of listening to sound through earphones.
Authentication is possible while the subject is on the move or working
Increases efficiency for staff who use their hands for specific tools, equipment or wearing gloves, for example, no need to stop or remove as no need for use of hands to authenticate.
Uses higher frequency, inaudible sounds to complete the authentication process
User is not aware of the sound being used for authentication.
Constant recognition using inaudible sound that does not interfere with the behaviour or work of users
Continuously reinforcing security.

Why should you use NEC’s Ear Recognition technology?

Whilst Ear Recognition technology is a relatively new biometric solution, there are many practical applications to specific sectors. NEC biometrics lead the world in accuracy and speed, providing solutions for over three decades, locally and internationally.

NEC’s Ear Acoustics technology is innovative and opens up new possibilities for businesses who need to maximise safety and security. Within Critical Infrastructure sites and in medical environments, the practical application of Ear Recognition technology adds an almost invisible level of security and is a non-evasive biometric solution.

Some of the practical applications include:

  • To minimise the risk of fraudulent impersonation of another individual for the maintenance, control and/or security of high security, Critical Infrastructure sites.
  • Authentication in medical environments often requires the use of hands, impacting operational performance and creating inefficiency.

Why NEC?

NEC invests heavily in global research and development with nine laboratories around the world leveraging our global talent and resources.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, are an integral part of research at our laboratories and will continue to face rapidly accelerating technological innovation.

NEC creates an ecosystem for R&D that includes working in collaboration with our external partners from the early stages of technology development to engaging ‘early adopter’ customers to ensure the speedy realisation of innovative solutions.

NEC has always excelled in the area of real-world sensing. Along with its biometric authentication technologies, such as face recognition that has received the #1 rating in accuracy and speed in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) benchmark tests, NEC drives the world of research with its optical sensing technology as well as its image, audio and scent analytics/analysis technologies.

Now we have Ear Recognition using sensing devices that people are already familiar with using in everyday life.

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Steve Graham
General Manager - Innovation & Biometrics