Researchers at Tel Aviv University, working in conjunction with researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, have developed a piece of software that utilizes the accelerometer and gyroscope in a smartwatch to perform signature verification. The motions of the smartwatch wearer can be captured as they're signing their signature. This means that each user has a unique signature pattern based not only on the cursive letters they're putting on a page, but by the subtle movements of the wrist that are biologically impossible for even the most talented signature forger to replicate exactly.
The technology was put to the test by 66 Tel Aviv University students who were shown videos of people signing things, and told to replicate the signatures. Rewards were even offered for the best forgeries in the group, giving students a reason to put some effort into replicating the signature itself and the subtle motions to produce it as closely as possible. Even with practice time, the system managed to catch a fairly high percentage of the would-be forgers. The implications here are pretty obvious; even super-talented signature forgers who can reproduce a John Hancock literally to a T could very well be thwarted by this software. On the other hand, the technology's relative imperfection at this time could end up labeling a signature by the right person a fake, if their movements are different for whatever reason.
The software's detection is quite imperfect for now, and most smartwatch wearers, according to studies, use their device on their non-dominant wrist to allow for navigating the device with their dominant hand. Users wanting to take advantage of the software would have to switch their smartwatch over to their dominant hand, or have one put on their dominant hand temporarily for a secure signing, such as with a legal document in the presence of a notary public. The team behind the software wants to compare it to other solutions to assist in improving the service, and are also considering using a tablet as an additional means of verification. A patent on the technology has been applied for and there is apparently a plan to bring it to the commercial market in the near future, once some of the kinks have been worked out.