‘No need for a passport – we’ll just sniff your pits.’

7 February 2014

Soon we might not have to fill out loads of forms and go into a photo booth for a snapshot of us looking half dead, then pay 80 quid for the privilege of British passport.


No – in the future, a machine dubbed an ‘electronic bloodhound’ might be able to smell us to find out whether we are who we say we are.

Researchers in Madrid have been working on a new electronic sniffing identification system that at the moment is 85% accurate, which is a higher success rate than the current facial recognition software.

They explained: 'There are recognizable patterns of each person’s body odor that remain steady. Therefore, every person has his/hers own odour and this would allow his/her identification within a group of people at an accurate rate higher than 85%.

This result leads the way to improve personal identification that is less aggressive than other biometric techniques being used today.’

The sniffer machine would be installed in airports, and would get a good noseful of us as we walked through. Some people smell of turnips and Lynx Africa, others smell of fry-ups and disappointment, and the machine should be able to ID them all.

And our unique whiff is apparently easier to match than our faces on a photo – which as anyone at the arse end of a 10 year passport will tell you, can be pretty unreliable.

The researchers got the idea by observing the techniques of police trained bloodhounds, who can identify and track down a person from a sample of their body odour.

But question is – how is the machine going to get our smell off us in the first place? Instead of passport photos are we going to have to send a sweaty hanky to Her Majesty’s Passport Office? Or do it through the Post Office’s new ‘Scratch, Sniff and Send’ service?

TOPICS:   Technology   Travel   Consumer Advice

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