Hey, that smells like Frank – body odor ID is on its way


February 4, 2014

Scientists are investigating BO as an additional form of biometric identification (Photo: Shutterstock)

Scientists are investigating BO as an additional form of biometric identification (Photo: Shutterstock)

Move over, fingerprints, iris scans and facial recognition, because a new form of biometric identification may soon be joining you – body odor. According to scientists at Spain's Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, peoples' unique scent signatures remain steady enough over time to allow for an ID accuracy rate of approximately 85 percent.

First of all, why is another form of biometric ID even needed? Well, as the researchers point out, people can sometimes be reluctant to place their finger or eye up to a scanner, particularly if they've got a criminal record. Odor-reading sensors, however, could conceivably just give those people an unobtrusive sniff as they passed by.

The university is now developing a system in collaboration with tech firm Ilía Sistemas. Although it's still not as accurate as police bloodhounds when it comes to identifying people by their smell, and despite potentially odor-altering factors such as changes in test subjects' diets, its margin of error is currently down to about 15 percent.

Source: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

What does this smell tell us about their health or other things about them?

Ben O'Brien

I'm imagining a computer tasked with this job becoming self-aware at some point in future. Maybe that's why the machines in the Matrix decided to put humans in pods. It all began with teenage boys but then they decided it was just easier to do everybody.


I worked as a nurses aide for ten years, and I learned to identify people by their scent during that time. I think it's quite a feat to teach a computer to do the same!

Bridgid Newman-Henson

Then it will analyse what you've consumed, who you've been near - all by smell. Facebook & Google will be rubbing their hands for this data...

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