October 03, 2012, 4:32 AM — Add palm-reading to the list of ways you can log in to your mobile phone.
At the Ceatec exhibition outside of Tokyo, Japanese operator KDDI is testing a new app that can uniquely identify users based on the pattern of the lines and wrinkles on their hands. The app first scans a user's hand into memory using the mobile phone's camera, lighting up the flash to make the palm pattern more clear. The process takes a few seconds, after which the app can be used to lock a phone, with a palm scan required to unlock it.
(See a YouTube video of the palm-reading login app.)
KDDI says that the wrinkles and folds on the human hand are unique for each person, making the method as reliable as fingerprinting for identification. Many phones and computers already have the ability to use facial recognition in a similar way, but some users may find palm reading less intrusive than using their face.
Some phones in Japan have been sold with dedicated finger and palm-reading hardware, but KDDI's app requires no specific hardware and can be easily be installed on a variety of smartphones. A flash or bright environment is required, however, to make palm lines stand out against the hand.
At KDDI's booth at the Ceatec show outside of Tokyo, the method worked well for attendees that lined up to give it a try. Phones with the app installed easily distinguished between multiple users, though sometimes it took a few tries for a user's palm to be recognized.
The app is currently completely local on each device, but KDDI says that if users find it acceptable, it could eventually be used to log in to online services, making it easy for multiple users to access online services from a single device.
The company said it will soon release an Android app for download on the Google Play store. The app will initially be limited to phones on the KDDI network, but will then be released to the broader public.
The Ceatec exhibition, Japan's largest electronics show, runs this week in Chiba, Japan.