The "humble hooter" could be added to the list of features used to identify an individual, according to scientists at the University of Bath.

Researchers created a system called PhotoFace to scan the shape of volunteers' noses, and developed computer software to analyse the results. The PhotoFace system "captures a 3D image of a person's face by taking several photos lit from different angles to throw shadows on the face and then building a model of facial features," according to the article in "The software determined that there are six main nose shapes: Roman, Greek, Nubian, Hawk, Snub and Turn-up."

PhotoFace measures three parts - the ridge, tip of the nose and the section between the eyes - in relation to each other as well as the shape of the nose ridge considered by itself to establish identity.

The system can process images quickly, which is a definite plus, but the system's recognition rates were comparatively low and researchers recommend it as an addition to existing biometrics rather than a replacement.

The idea is an interesting one - it's harder to conceal noses - but it's also really easy to mess up a nose. Broken noses, plastic surgery, a disguise, identical twins - anything could mess up the scan. Who nose if this will come to fruition, but it sounds like researchers are going to sniff around this area a bit more to improve software.