Your next security password may be your ear

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- There are devices that scan your fingerprint, read your retina and face, recognize your voice, and identify you using the veins in your palm. So why not the ear?

Descartes Biometrics in Bellingham has developed Ergo, an app for Android smart phones that uses your ear as a password.

"The human ear is as unique as the human fingerprint," said CEO Michael Boczek.

Boczek believes the ear can unlock not just a login for smart phone, but a future for the startup company, especially if the banking industry becomes interested.

The app takes advantage of the pressure and touch sensitive glass screens on Android phones. Apple software prevents the app from working on an iPhone.

Boczek says the ear scans are kept locally on the phone and not uploaded to a database in the cloud. A user must press their ear to the phone's screen several times to develop a profile of the ear that is memorized on the phone.

From that point on, the user can unlock a phone that's password protected by pressing the phone to ear. Phones that have require corporate or administrative permissions may not work.

"It's a proof of concept," said Boczek, who also says version two is on its way and will offer a second level of security using a picture of the user's ear.

"It's the most obvious biometric use for smart phone users because people use their phone 100 times a day," Boczek said.

Ergo is available on the Google Play store for $3.99.