In the future, your ear may become your new password. Although recently reports have started to discredit ear imprints as a valid form of biometric identification there is another aspect of the ear that seems to be unique to individuals. Mammalian, and hence human, ears emit noises in response to certain types of audio stimuli; these emitted noises, called otoacoustic emissions (OAE), may be used to distinguish individuals because they are thought to be unique. So it makes sense that people have thought to make ear noises as passwords.
Although it is thought that each person has a unique OAE in response to auditory stimuli there is not a way of distinguishing these low frequency sounds to the point of use for identification….yet. Once the technology is developed for recording these emissions the OAE can be recorded with a simple device placed next to the entrance of the ear such as telephone handsets or headphones. Some of the potential applications include identity verification for call centers dealing with sensitive transactions such as during phone banking.
OAE’s are already in use by hospitals and physicians to scan for hearing damage as well as defects in newborns and children since OAE’s disappear if damage exists in the inner ear. This is also one of OAE’s potential downfalls. Not only do OAE’s disappear when the inner ear is damaged, but colds, medication, and trimming one’s ear hair may alter a person’s OAE as well.