While facial and fingerprint security locks have proven to be defeatable for even the most advanced cellphones, scientists in New York say your sweat may soon make for a perfect key to a new kind of lock tech.
Dr. Jan Halámek, a biochemist and assistant professor at the University of Albany, is heading up a team that is studying that very concept. Halámek’s approach relies on amino acids found in skin secretions. A phone, for example, will be able to identify what compounds are in its owner’s unique sweat, Halámek told ABC News. “The device will sense them, and say ‘that’s my owner,’” said Halámek, who has tested the method successfully.Those metabolizing levels change depending on factors like eating and exercising, he said. “We are unique and we metabolize. It’s a dynamic process, but metabolized levels change.”To build a profile, the device would first have a “monitoring period” in which it would continuously measure its owner’s sweat levels at various times of the day, according to a press release on the science. Halámek's lab is still working on how often the phone would need to re-calibrate to stay up to date.“I’m asked a lot, ‘what if people steal my sweat,’” Halámek said. “The answer is that it would work, but not for long. The sweat will begin to decompose and will not stay stable.”That's one of the reasons why Halámek believes a biochemical approach to cybersecurity would be the most effective.“Metabolization is not constant. It is not a Social Security number,” he said.To break into a phone, one would have to know exactly what the metabolizing levels are at that point in time.His team is submitting proposals for funding to get this research in the hands of smartphone makers.