iPads could pick up on unique biological traits in individual hand gestures

Tablets and iPads could soon pick up on unique biological traits of individuals who swipe and rotate their palms across touch screens -- a development that could lead to better methods of authenticating users.

A scientist at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University is working on the foundations for technology that can biometrically authenticate users’ hand gestures with multi-touch sensors.

The goal is to create an iPad app that replaces the use of text passwords with strokes that a hand can make on a keyboard. Unlike existing authentication touch technologies used in cell phones -- which ask users to draw shapes or manipulate dots on a screen -- this touch technology will recognize an individual’s biological features.

Napa Sae-Bae, a second-year doctoral student at NYU-Poly’s department of computer science, built an algorithm to detect individuals’ unique biological traits from the shape of their hands, how their fingers move in relation to one another and the length of their fingers. She created a program for the iPad that would match people to gestures they made on a touch screen. The movements ranged anywhere from rotating an open palm to opening up a clenched fist against a screen.
In experiments with 34 participants, Sae-Bae achieved a 90 percent accuracy rate in verifying that gestures belonged to those who made them. Her research won the third prize in antivirus company Kaspersky Lab’s student competition, “IT Security for the Next Generation,” held earlier this month at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

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