A new study says that outer ear could be better unique identification mark in human beings than finger prints.

“When you’re born your ear is fully formed. The lobe descends a little, but overall it stays the same. It’s a great way to identify people,” said Mark Nixon, a computer scientist at the University of Southampton and leader of the research.

Nixon and his team presented a paper at the IEEE Fourth International Conference on Biometrics and using an algorithm identified people with 99.6 per cent accuracy.

“The rays fly around the image and get caught in tubular things. The helix, or outer edge, of an ear is a wonderful tube that rays keep hitting,” said Alastair Cummings, the Southampton University computer scientist who developed the algorithm. “There are dozens of ways of doing ear biometrics, but this is a very good one.”

But there are critics who do not agree. “I have seen no scientific proof that the ear doesn’t change significantly over time. Fingerprinting has a history of 100 years showing that it works, unless you destroy your fingerprints or work in an industry that gives you calluses,” said Anil Jain, a computer scientist at Michigan State University.

The ear surveillance system also has shortcomings such as its accuracy if a person covers the ear or the angle of image when a scan is done. “We’ve shown we can use ears, but can we process data that comes from a sort of normal scenario? That’s the real challenge,” Nixon said..