Researchers have found anything from the skin cream you use, to the type of medication you take.
A team of Californian researchers have found a lot can be known about the owner of a phone including lifestyle choices and habits but not in the way that you would think.
The scientists from the University of California San Diego, looked at the trace molecules found on phones by human touch and were able to determine the owner’s lifestyle habits from what medication they took to what skin cream they used.
Even by washing hands thoroughly, we constantly leave traces of bacteria, chemicals and molecules on everything we touch and since our phones are consistently in our hands, it seems an obvious item to start with. The team tested 500 samples from 40 phones using a technique called mass spectrometry. From this they built up a database where they were able to identify the type of lifestyle each person was likely to have.
“By analysing the molecules they left behind on their phones, we could tell if a person is likely to be female, uses high-end cosmetics, dyes her hair, drinks coffee, prefers beer over wine, likes spicy food, is being treated for depression, wears sunscreen and bug spray – and therefore likely to spend a lot of time outdoors – all kinds of things,” stated Dr Amina Bouslimani, who was an assistant project scientist on the study.
Despite this being a seemingly fun way to figure out a person’s habits, the research said this method can be used to help identify an object’s owner of no fingerprints are found, check to see if patients are taking their medication or even analyze particular health issues such as exposure to pollution, according to a BBC report.
The team are now keen to examine the number of bacteria present on our skin and what they can reveal. According to the senior author of the study, Prof. Pieter Dorrestein, there are around 1000 different microbes on one person’s skin.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.