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Forget Facial Recognition: You Can Unlock Phones With Your Sweat

Within a week of the iPhone X’s release, its facial recognition technology was hacked. In the past, similar systems have experienced other high profile failures, such as being incapable of recognizing black and hispanic users.

According to Wired, hackers “cracked Face ID with a composite mask of 3-D-printed plastic, silicone, makeup, and simple paper cutouts,” resulting in questions and concerns over the efficacy of the software.

The ever-evolving tech scene has brought us PINs, fingerprint scanners, and facial identification, but what’s next in the mobile security world?

Apparently, the answer is sweat. An emerging biotechnology is now poised to use perspiration for a more secure authentication process to unlock your mobile device.

As you might know, sweat functions in the human body as a cooling mechanism, but rather impressively, the average individual has between two and four million sweat glands in their body. Not only does sweat cool you when you’re hot, but it is also composed of person-specific amino acids. The theory is that your phone will store your ‘sweat-print’ and use that as a reference whenever you go to unlock.

“Using sweat as an identifier cannot be easily mimicked/hacked by potential intruders. It is close to fool-proof,” Assistant Professor Jan Halamek told The Hindu Business Line.


Halamek teaches at the University of Albany where she also led the study finding promising results. The concept has been proven effective and she now awaits engineers to assist in bringing the concept to life.

Security for smartphones is becoming ever more important. As of 2015, there were an estimated 190.5 million people using smartphones in the United States alone, and that number continues to grow. This makes mobile users a prime target for cyber attacks.


Jan Halamek has confidence in the concepts behind sweat based authentication, yet as security improves, the skill set and technology behind hacking improves as well. Only time will tell if her ideas hold up.

The real question becomes: how quickly will hackers crack the sweat code?




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