Finger swiping passwords instead of passcodes?

swiping password for the iPad
Apple enthusiasts probably already have their dates set for October 23rd, 10 am PST, San Jose. As the invitations state: “We’ve got a little more to show you”, indicating the rumored iPad mini release. We thought instead of covering a load of prospected features, we’d cover something a bit more interesting yet still iPad related.

Take a minute, meditate and imagine holding your hand open, touching your fingertips to the iPad’s surface, then drawing your fingers together until they meet in the center. Why would you do that you ask? Well, it might be a new method of unlocking your beloved iPad! Yes, according to a new iPad app developed by Napa computer science student Sae-Bae, the new app can analyze the method implemented to perform the gesture; the speed of the swipe, the angles between each fingertip, and then decided to let her use the tablet. If all of these are in cohesion, then a yellow smiley face turns up stating that you could access the app.

The new app is even more intelligent that one might think; if you thought of simply dragging your fingers along the same lines so as to gain access then you are mistaken. Even if two people do have similar hand sizes and speed, the paths will undoubtedly feel unnatural hence resulting in a green frowning face indicating you are locked out.

Sae-Bae, the doctorial student at the Polytechnic institute of New York University, after conducting two recent studies, has come to the resolution has apps like these could be considered as more secure, easier to memorize and more playful alternatives to passcodes as well as passwords. Even though Sae-Bae’s work is still in its infant stages, her adviser and her, dream of a future where gestures and swipes will prove to be a better crafter alternative tailor made for the touch screen age.

Explain to me; how does this work?

Individuals differ in the way they pinch, swipe and even turn, as Sae-Bae explains, so even if someone wanted to copy your gesture, they wouldn’t be able to due to the reasons aforementioned plus add to that the different fingertip distances and speed of swiping.

Another interesting finding was presented by Sae-Bae in May at an Association for Computing Machinery conference. For that particular study, Sae-Bae brought in volunteers who had to make 22 gestures on an iPad and then rate which was the most fun to make. Surprisingly, the most fun ones turned out to be the most secure as well; a finding that is quite the opposite of what happens when compared to text passwords.

Though these series of studies and findings are very interesting, the future is still a little hazy and a lot more test ought to be done. First of which is researching the difficulty of remembering the gestures that one chooses as a replacement to the passcode. What benefit would all of this be if we cannot actually remember what gesture we set?

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