3D Printed Head Can Unlock Your Phone

[Thomas Brewster] writes for Forbes, but we think he’d be at home with us. He had a 3D printed head made in his own image and then decided to see what phones with facial recognition he could unlock. Turns out the answer is: most of them — at least, those running Android.

The models tested included an iPhone X, an LG, two Samsung phones, and a OnePlus. Ironically, several of the phones warn you when you enroll a face that the method may be less secure than other locking schemes. Conversely, one phone had a faster feature that is known to make the phone less secure.

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Biometric Authentication With A Cheap USB Hub

It’s fair to say that fingerprints aren’t necessarily the best idea for device authentication, after all, they’re kind of everywhere. But in some cases, such as a device that never leaves your home, fingerprints are an appealing way to speed up repetitive logins. Unfortunately, fingerprint scanners aren’t exactly ubiquitous pieces of hardware yet. We wouldn’t hold out much hope for seeing a future Raspberry Pi with a fingerprint scanner sitting on top, for example.

Looking for a cheap way to add fingerprint scanning capabilities to his devices, [Nicholas] came up with a clever solution that is not only inexpensive, but multi-functional. By combining a cheap USB hub with a fingerprint scanner that was intended as a replacement part of a Thinkpad laptop, he was able to put together a biometric USB hub for around $5 USD.

After buying the Thinkpad fingerprint scanner, he wanted to make sure it would be detected by his computer as a standard USB device. The connector and pinout on the scanner aren’t standard, so he had to scrape off the plastic coating of the ribbon cable and do some probing with his multimeter to figure out what went where. Luckily, once he found the ground wire, the order of the rest of the connections were unchanged from normal USB.

When connected to up his Ubuntu machine, the Thinkpad scanner came up as a “STMicroelectronics Fingerprint Reader”, and could be configured with libpam-fprintd.

With the pintout and software configuration now known, all that was left was getting it integrated into the USB hub. One of the hub’s ports was removed and filled in with hot glue, and the fingerprint scanner connected in its place. A hole was then cut in the case of the hub for the scanner to peak out of. [Nicholas] mentions his Dremel is on loan to somebody else at the moment, and says he’ll probably try to clean the case and opening up a bit when he gets it back.

[Nicholas] was actually inspired to tackle this project based on a Hackaday post he read awhile back, so this one has truly come full circle. If you’d like to learn more about fingerprint scanning and the techniques being developed to improve it, we’ve got some excellent articles to get you started.

Passwords? Just Use Your Head!

Biometrics–the technique of using something unique about your body as a security device–promises to improve safety while being more convenient than a password. Fingerprints, retinal scans, and voice identification have all found some use, although not without limitations.

Now researchers in Germany want you to use your head, literally. SkullConduct measures vibrations of your skull in response to a sonic signal. A small prototype was successful and is particularly well suited for something you are holding up to your head anyway, like a smartphone or a headset like a Google Glass.

There are some limitations, though. For one thing, background noise can be a factor. It stands to reason, also, that more testing is necessary.

This looks straightforward enough that you could try your own version of it. After all, scanning veins in your hand has been hacked. We’ve even seen a biometric safe.

Your Body Is Your PIN With Bodyprint

[Christian Holz, Senaka Buthpitiya, and Marius Knaust] are researchers at Yahoo that have created a biometric solution for those unlucky folks that always forget their smartphone PIN codes. Bodyprint is an authentication system that allows a variety of body parts to act as the password.  These range from ears to fists.

Bodyprint uses the phone’s touchscreen as an image scanner. In order to do so, the researchers rooted an LG Nexus 5 and modified the touchscreen module. When a user sets up Bodyprint, they hold the desired body part to the touchscreen. A series of images are taken, sorted into various intensity categories. These files are stored in a database that identifies them by body type and associates the user authentication with them. When the user wants to access their phone, they simply hold that body part on the touchscreen, and Bodyprint will do the rest. There is an interesting security option: the two person authentication process. In the example shown in the video below, two users can restrict file access on a phone. Both users must be present to unlock the files on the phone.

How does Bodyprint compare to capacitive fingerprint scanners? These scanners are available on the more expensive phone models, as they require a higher touchscreen resolution and quality sensor. Bodyprint makes do with a much lower resolution of approximately 6dpi while increasing the false rejection rate to help compensate.  In a 12 participant study using the ears to authenticate, accuracy was over 99% with a false rejection rate of 1 out of 13.

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Cheap(er) Biometric Gun Safe

[Greg] sent in his biometric pistol safe lock. He keeps his guide light on details so not every Joe can crack the system (there is a thread to sift through if you really wanted to), but the idea runs fairly simple anyway. [Greg] took an old garage door opening fingerprint scanner and wired it into a half broken keypad based pistol safe. While he did have some issues finding a signal that only fired when the correct fingerprint is scanned, a little magic with a CMOS HEX inverter fixed that problem quick.

This does bring one question to our minds, are fingerprint scanners as easy to crack as fingerprint readers?

Pulse Oximeter

[Mike] is building his own Pulse Oximeter which uses light to measure the oxygen saturation in blood. One collateral benefit of this measurement is that pulse rate can be calculated from the same data. The parts used for the detector include a red LED, infrared LED, and a TSL230R light intensity measuring chip. As explained in the video above, each LED is shined through the tip of your finger and onto the light sensor. The IR LED is used as a baseline and compared to the red LED, which has some of its intensity absorbed by the red blood in your finger. This is a pretty approachable biometric concept so you may want to start here before moving on to more involved biometric interfaces.

[Thanks Russ]

The Narcisystem

biometric

The Narcisystem is part of an art display where [Eric] strapped himself to as many biometric sensors as he could. The core of the system was a Funnel IO which includes an Arduino, Xbee plug, and LiPo charging circuit. It was collecting data from a heart rate monitor, an EEG, a breathalyzer, compass, and an accelerometer. This data was sent to a laptop and then sent to different displays. You can see the setup functioning in a video after the break. The red flashes are his heart beat, the blue light is the direction he’s facing. What you can’t see is the high power bass thud every time he takes a step. The EEG data was supposed to effect the tempo of the music, but it failed and was dropped, as was the fog machine based on his blood alcohol level. He notes that he wanted to do more, but was lacking the hardware.

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