Can Ears Be Used for Identification?

Ears can be used for identification of humans and have been found to have an accuracy rate of 99.6%. The human ear is thought to be an accurate biometric, or unique anatomic characteristic used for automated recognition, because it is less prone to changes caused by aging than are fingerprints, which can change over time. An algorithm known as image ray transform is used for identifying a person through the shape of his or her outer ear. Critics of using ears as identification point out that there are potential factors that could cause inaccurate readings, such as poor lighting and viewing angles, as well as hair obstructing the outer ear.

More about identification:

  • The first person to develop a system for identifying humans through fingerprints was Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, in 1888.

  • It is estimated that the average human can recognize 1,500 other human faces.

  • India is the country with the largest biometrics database in the world, with about 200 million of its citizens’ fingerprints having been voluntarily added into a system for recognition with the goal of having the entire population in the database as a means of national ID.
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Discussion Comments


Out of all the countries in the world, who would have thought that India had so many biometrics? Going off of the third bullet point, does anyone know the second country in the world with the largest biometrics, that's right behind India?


One thing I really like about this article is that it really shows how almost any of our body parts can be used for identification, especially the ones we don't give much thought about. For example, when we look at out fingers, we normally don't see them as a means for identification, as most people have fingers that look the same. However, our DNA clearly says otherwise, especially when the authorities use our fingerprints.


I'm surprised that this wasn't brought up, but one of the main reasons why ears can be used for identification is because we come in all different shapes and sizes. In other words, most people don't have the exact same ears, and even if they do, careful observation can show significant differences that you wouldn't notice at first glance.

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