Perspiration As Biometric Identification

Israeli chemists are determined to introduce a new form of biometric identification; namely, sweat.

According to Dr. Michael Gozin of Tel Aviv University's School of Chemistry, the biochemical components of human sweat are a valid ID. Each person has a unique chemical "fingerprint" that is the product of the food we eat, drugs we take, gender and even our state of mind.

Sweat is a complex mixture of proteins and byproducts of our metabolism emitted from our pores. It also contains volatile compounds, only some of which our noses pick up. Gozin is investigating those compounds with heavy molecular weights, like proteins and peptides, which stick around long after a person and his or her smell have vanished.

If Gozin's thesis proves true, sweat could be used to track terrorists and criminals when fingerprints are partially damaged or do not exist. By analyzing the chemical composition of sweat collected from garments or surfaces, suspects could be traced and found.

"These heavier molecules will stay on the skin or the surface of a table if you touch it. We are figuring out in what proportions these compounds are found in the sweat of individuals," says Gozin. He surmises that there are thousands of different chemical compounds in our sweat, some in only very minute trace amounts.

Gozin hopes to use a high-end mass spectrophotometer provided by the US Department of Defense and Israeli Ministry of Defense to provide results in real time. The apparatus could be part of a bionic nose that sniffs people as they go through checkpoints.


(Predator pheromone detection)

Science fiction movie fans have already had a whiff of this idea. In the 1990 movie Predator 2, starring Danny Glover and Gary Busey, Special Agent Peter Keyes (Busey) explains to an L.A. cop (Glover) how they are tracking an inhuman enemy:

Gary Busey - Special Agent Peter Keyes: Harrigan! Don't you show up in the damnedest places... Come here, Lieutenant. I got something you might find interesting.
Danny Glover - Lt. Mike Harrigan - What is this?
Keyes: How many times do I have to tell you? You don't know what you're dealing with... There's your killer. Wonderful, isn't it.. Pheromone signature left by his body. Scent molecules... Punch up three (points to video monitor).


(Tracking Predators by pheromones)

From Sweat, the fingerprint of the future?; thanks to the marvelous Moira for the tip and the reference.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/24/2009)

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Index of related articles:

Biometric security overview
Biometrics Glossary
Characteristics of successful biometric identification methods
Biometric identification systems
Biometric technology on the leading edge
Biometric identification - advantages
Biometric security and business ethics
Biometric authentication: what method works best?
Iris Recognition
Iris Scan

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