Finger Vibrations can be used to Verify Identity

New research paper shows how any surface can be turned into a smart access point.

A team of engineers from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, discovered a novel approach to identity verification. It can, in principal, be attached to any surface, allowing simple items such as doors and desktops to be retrofitted with identity scanning hardware.

Traditionally, electronic identity verification systems relied on specialized sensors such as optical scanners for iris and fingerprint recognition, or keypads for password and PIN entry. That may all be about to change.

The new system, VibWrite, uses a single pair of low-cost vibration motors and a receiver to detect the vibrations caused by an individual’s bone structure as they interact with the surface. Every person’s bone structure is unique like a fingerprint and, therefore, the vibrations caused by interacting with objects also are unique.

How it works. (Image courtesy of Rutgers.)

How it works. (Image courtesy of Rutgers.)

The team, led by Professor Yingying Chen, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, recently published a paper for the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, which details their findings.

According to the paper, experiments demonstrated that VibWrite can authenticate users with high accuracy (e.g., over 95 percent within two trials), has a low false-positive rate (e.g., less than 3 percent) and is robust to various types of attacks.

VibWrite can permit access through three types of touch: PIN entry, gesture and lock pattern. In the future, the authors state that signature verification will become a reality.

The market for smart verification systems, such as fingerprint sensors and keypads, is growing rapidly. According to one report, it is growing at an annual rate of 7.49 percent and will reach a market value of $9.8 billion by 2022. 

In terms of application, the authors of the paper see the technology being deployed in hotels, corporate offices, factories and anywhere else that needs to be secured from potential intruders or other ne’er-do-wells. Other applications may be closer to home and could be deployed to protect at-risk people from harm in their own home such as older adults could have restricted access to ovens or children from medicine cabinets.

In the paper, a movie scene is quoted as an example of how this technology can be applied to everyday surfaces. In a scene from Mission Impossible 5, Simon Pegg’s character unlocks a BMW by placing his hand on the driver-side window. The window senses his identity, and the door opens.

Simon Pegg gains access to the BMW in Mission Impossible 5.

Yet again, we are seeing life imitating art—what a time to be alive.

You can find the original paper at the following link.