QUB honour for creating lip-reading ID device

The Prince of Wales with Queens Professor Patrick Johnston
The Prince of Wales with Queens Professor Patrick Johnston

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 tackling 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 now 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.