A team of Indian researchers has developed a new teeth authentication app for mobile devices. The DeepTeeth Android app operates like a more standard facial recognition system, but focuses on the user’s mouth rather than the entire face.
DeepTeeth is the work of researchers at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani at Rajasthan. They trained their algorithm with the help of 51 volunteers, who were asked to take pictures of their teeth at different angles and in different lighting conditions to build an image database. Those images were then used to build a baseline ID for each individual, allowing future images to be matched to their proper owner with a 100 percent accuracy rate.
According to the researchers, DeepTeeth is extremely efficient, and can perform matches with images that are only 75 square pixels. The matches themselves are performed locally, which minimizes the computational footprint of the program.
In that regard, DeepTeeth stands apart from other dental identification systems. Though the concept may seem strange, there is a well-established precedent for using teeth in forensic science. Dental records are often used to identify someone post-mortem, with the researchers noting that teeth are one of the last things to decompose after someone has died.
The problem is that those systems are often data-intensive and difficult to train, and may also require expensive scanning equipment like x-ray machines. That makes them prohibitively expensive to deploy as a consumer identification solution.
DeepTeeth purports to solve that problem, delivering a solution that is small enough to run in casual authentication scenarios on standard mobile devices. The tool could presumably be used like any other biometric identifier, giving people a secure way to unlock their device or log into other applications. On that front, the researchers claimed that their solution is not as vulnerable to the kinds of spoof attacks that have plagued facial recognition systems.
While the researchers have published their initial report, it is not yet clear if or when the technology will make its way into a commercial product. Alibaba has developed a Smile to Pay biometric payment system, but Smile to Pay is a cute name for a standard facial recognition system rather than a dedicated tooth identification offering.
August 3, 2021 – by Eric Weiss