back to article Knee X-ray biometrics plan to fight spoofing

US federal eggheads have proposed a novel method of preventing biometric ID systems being spoofed by the use of such things as contact lenses, fake fingerprints etc. Instead of easily-fooled systems of this sort, people should instead be identified using X-ray photographs of their knees. Lior Shamir of the US National …


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  1. Michael


    Dental Records?

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Their algorithm isn’t terribly reliable nor is the imaging technology that is required to make this practical widely available. Perfect.

  3. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    Quite apart from the cancer risk

    What happens if you dislocate or otherwise damage your knee in an accident or suffer from arthritis or osteoporosis which is common in the elderly? Presumably it wouldn't be too effective in those whose bones are still growing either, leaving an effective age range of maybe only 25-50?

    When will folk realise that biometrics have their inherent problems - peoples bodies are not a constant - and just give up?

  4. Hywel Thomas


    What will they use to process this biometric kneecapping ? A Kray ?

  5. Hollerith

    Geez, such simpletons should give their money to that nice lady from Nigeria

    I have had knee surgery which radically corrected a problem, and my knees before and after look very different on the X-ray. A quick spot of scalpel-work adding temporary lumps and bumps would be well worth it for terrorists and drug barons. It could even be done key-hole.

    I'd also like to see hands-up of all chaps who don't mind a blast of X-rays near the family jewels every time they are off to Marbella.

  6. b
    Thumb Down


    X-rays are bad for you.

  7. Tim

    Xrays? erm no thanks, i want children.

    I have a great idea, why dont we implant a metal serial code into every human, then just zap 'em with x rays to see who they are. Brilliant and only slightly more orwellian than this ridiculous idea!

    Regular travellers will have cancerous knees in no time, and i dont like the thought of xrays that near the "frank and beans".

  8. Robert Ramsay


    ...if you haven't got any knees, you are clearly a terrorist.

  9. Martin Lyne


    Woudln't it need to have a 3D element, lest a slightly off angle will result in a "this is not you"?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Early April Fool?

    I had to re-check the date the date when I read this, and it is not April 1st. I don't know what is scarier, the prospect of having Jacqui Smith wanting intimate pictures of my knees or the queues at the x-ray scanners at Heathrow.

  11. Eden

    Good grief

    Hey we have a great way to proove your identity and the only downside that it will eventually cause cancer!!! YAY!!!!

    Oh and don't dare break your leg in an accident or you'll become a non person*

    Please feel free to point out if either comment is inaccurate for any reason =p

    * whilst maybe Knees are harder to spoof than finger prints it's much harder to change your real prints than it would be to accidently change your knees by say, getting hit by a car :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just what you want, twice daily knee x-rays. In 20 years time people who had access to security sites will be easily identified by their grosely difformed knee tumours.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just as well housemaids are too poor to fly

    Have they ever heard of housemaid's knees ?

    For myself as age kicks in, weight goes up, knees deform.

  14. Bassey
    Thumb Down


    So, according to it's authors, it doesn't work very well and it causes cancer. How the hell did this idea ever get published?

  15. zedee
    Thumb Down

    Really well thought out

    Especially when the rate of knee cancer (?) shoots up.

  16. Peter H. Coffin

    Knee-cancer it is....

    Anyone else remember the shoe-fitting fluroscope debacle?

  17. Dave Gregory

    And then...

    ...You have a knee replacement in late middle age and become a terrorist.

    What a completely retarded idea.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slightly better

    ... than the boobie based recognition system I was working on for a few years, unfortunately it wasn't robust enough to cope with terrorists using implants, stll, all that time spent researching someone seemed worth it.

  19. Simon Robinson


    Great, as someone who suffers from a degenerative joint disorder I'd never be able to fly again! Can't see this really working too well, far too many exclusions and variables.

  20. Robert Grant Silver badge

    I want dibs on the TerrorWrist scanner trademark

    Yeah. I went there.

  21. Christoph Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great idea

    All those jet-setting politicians will get regular massive blasts of ionising radiation right in the goolies. That'll stop them breeding.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Well I'm like totally

    been ready for this for, like, decades, man, with holes in the knees of my jeans. But, uh, the suits are gonna havta drop their, like, trousers?

  23. Matt

    Will it blend?

    Here's a more sensible suggestion...

    Blend people and use mass spectrometry to identify them

  24. Remy Redert

    And ofcourse

    Then you've got all this great gear set up and someone from across with the hall zaps your X-ray scanner with a good dose of X-rays every time someone steps up to be scanned.

    Hmm, appears the machine is broken, we'll have to get someone in to repair it.

  25. Schultz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Gearing up for the ignoble price!

    see title

  26. Anonymous Coward

    "much better than random results"

    So, less than 50% of all people identified would be misidentified, potentially treated as terrorists, and get a bout of cancer thrown in as a freebie?

    Bloody muppets.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Cancer risks

    Somehow I'm not surprised that everyone's knee-jerk reaction is about other bits in the vicinity of the knees.

    Mine's the one with the crowbar in it.

  28. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Biometrics are not the answer.

    Firstly, if (like Wacky Jacky) you are hoping to track tiny groups within a population of several tens of millions, you need an accuracy several *orders of magnitude* better than any known biometric, to avoid being flooded with false positives.

    Secondly, revoking a biometric is Hard (tm), requiring anything from surgery to reincarnation.

    Thirdly, most biometrics actually change over time, so as far as any identity database is concerned we are all constantly morphing into other people.

    Imaging trying to secure a computer system where the number of possible passwords was less than the number of users, where users aren't allowed to change their passwords, but where a background process on the system *does* make small changes (without telling the users).


  29. Charles Silver badge

    How can you win?

    Everyone's complaining so much that there is zero way to come up with a system that will satisfy everyone, and if it doesn't satisfy everyone, those it doesn't will yell so loud that it'll be removed just to shut them up. Fingerprints can be covered, irises can be covered, bones can be damaged, blood is not fine enough, and even DNA can't distinguish identical twins. And not even profiling will be 100% effective--it won't stop DOMESTIC terrorists like US's Timothy McVeigh. Should we just throw up the white flag at this point?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    It's a rubbish idea; but to be honest you are going to receive a higher dose of radiation getting on the plane and flying for a few hours.

  31. Stevie Silver badge


    This has been known since the middle ages. Why on earth do you think that when a woman's name is used, they give her married name, then the family name of her knees?


    Countess Bertha FFoulkes-Featherstone Bedworthy knees Postlethwaite (Mrs).

  32. kain preacher

    Call it what it is

    I researcher trying to get money. Between the health nuts, Drs, and AARP. this would never fly.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    What about...

    ... panoramic photos of our arseholes? No X rays, just a 3D of our back pipes?

  34. Alan Newbury


    'Some knees went ping, other knees turned to string from Balham to old Hong Kong'

  35. Bod


    Can see I'll be hauled over every time I go skiing and bugger my knees up then.

    What about amputees though? When you run out of limbs to identify you with, what then?

  36. LadyM

    Coming soon.......

    Heathrow's First Annual Knobbly Knees Competition

    International flights only

    Entrants must be over 18

    Terms and conditions apply


  37. philbo

    A whole new meaning...

    to the term "knee-jerk"

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