After lopping off the tip of his index finger in a crane accident, Kieran Higgins of Spain found that despite his partial dismemberment, he could still unlock his Samsung Galaxy A20 smartphone… with the severed tip of his finger.
On a video call with The Register, Higgins explains that having spent most of his life dealing with insurance companies, he decided to keep the fingertip for insurance purposes. “You never know when it’s gonna turn nasty. So I kept it,” he said matter-of-factly, “because insurance companies never like to pay out.”
But when he realised he could no longer access his “brand new shiny whatsit,” he “devised a cunning plan to register the fingerprint” using the shriveled digit that had been encased in a “grave of medicinal alcohol” for two weeks. That’s some real old school horror vibes. Definitely something Ethan Winters would do in Resident Evil Village, given the chance.
Higgins had to drive himself over 20km from where the accident happened in rural Spain, after a quick stop at the local pharmacy where they simply “wrapped it in paper” and sent him on his way.
What’s amazing is that, even though the fingertip had been crushed severely enough that it was unable to be reattached, it genuinely worked to unlock his phone. At least, it appeared to work from what the reporter could tell over video link.
Currently there is no consumer-facing tech that will detect a finger’s ‘liveness’, but it exists, according to Lucas Francese, biometric devices manager at French aerospace, defence, transportation and security company, Thales. ‘Liveness Finger Detection’ prevents the use of “fake fingers, such as those made by rubber or gelatine, but enables real fingers, dead or alive, to work.”
So the well known Borrowed Biometric Bypass trope—the one where they use the dead guy’s hand to unlock the way—may not be quite as farfetched in this, our callous age of technology.
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