Smartphones and tablets could soon get a new layer of security based entirely on how users interact with the screens on their devices, thanks to a research project called AMBER. The European Union-funded project actually goes far beyond those parameters and is looking at new ways to identify people based on mechanisms that already exist in the human experience. For example, without realizing it, many people can be readily identified by friends, family, and acquaintances by how they walk or carry themselves. Small variations, although difficult to pin down in general, tend to give people away to those familiar with them. The idea isn't necessarily new, but AMBER is pushing to fine-tune that principle and other related details as means to identify individuals for a wide variety of security purposes. One such use, according to the scientists involved in the program, may be in identifying device users by how they swipe.
Modern smart devices are capable of recognizing faces, identifying users by fingerprint, or using voice cues to log in or provide protection, even at the lower end of the device spectrum. Those have, unfortunately, been shown to be circumventable security measures and the technology to create fully fleshed out security measures based on the small variances in how a user swipes may be years away, given the complexity of the problem. However, it may be possible to use more than one other data point to effectively augment those current security measures and make them stronger. The team behind AMBER has already shown that they can differentiate between men and women simply by analyzing the way they swipe a mobile screen. One of AMBER's leading members, Dr. Richard Guest, also says that the research goes far beyond the way a user swipes on the screen. The team under Dr. Guest hopes to develop a software solution that can also identify them by the way they hold their phone, and how they move when the phone is in their pocket. One benefit of all of those things is that the sensors required to recognize an individual user are already present in smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other devices.
Dr. Guest and the team behind AMBER aren't the only ones looking to find consistently accurate ways to identify individuals as a means to increase overall smartphone security, either. Technology companies such as Samsung, are already funding research and patenting innovative ways to make sure everybody's device stays secure. AMBER does, however, represent a substantial effort with backing from a governing body to put user security at the forefront and the research being conducted by the initiative could go a long way toward keeping all users of consumer electronics a lot safer.