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Queen's University Belfast wins honour with technology using lip movements to identify people

Published 25/02/2016

The Prince of Wales with Professor Patrick Johnston of Queen's University Belfast at the presentation of The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education
The Prince of Wales with Professor Patrick Johnston of Queen's University Belfast at the presentation of The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education

Technology that can identify a person from their lip movements was one of the stand-out innovations recognised by a national award honouring universities and colleges.

The major development in cyber security helped earn Queen's University Belfast a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

The institution was among 21 universities and colleges which received the honour during a Buckingham Palace presentation ceremony hosted by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Northern Ireland is fast gaining an international reputation as a major centre for cyber security research and a hub for new companies tacking the issue.

This is thanks, in part, to Queen's University Belfast's Centre for Secure Information and Technologies (CSIT).

David Crozier, the university's technology and marketing manager, explained how a person's lips movements are as individual as their fingerprints.

He said: "We've been carrying research into lip movement as a unique biometric, so the way you form your words and numerals is unique to you."

Speaking about the technology, he added: "It uses the forward facing camera on your smartphone, it prompts with a random sequence of digits and you repeat it into your phone and it determines from your lip movement who you are."

Mr Crozier and some colleagues have created a spin-off company called Liopa to commercialise the technology so it can be used as a new form of verification and identification.

He said they were talking to banks and the motor car and insurance industries about applications for their technology - with one idea of creating a car which could identify who was behind the wheel.

Prize winners included Bristol University's volcanology research group, which has developed models to predict ash plumes to make air travel safer, and Cardiff Metropolitan University's pioneering work using 3D scanning to create prosthetics for reconstructive surgery.

The Queen's Anniversary Prizes are awarded every two years to universities and colleges which submit work judged to show excellence, innovation, impact and benefit for the institution itself and for people and society generally.

The Princess Royal also attended the event in her role as Chancellor of the University of London.

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