You'll Have To Walk the Walk To Talk the Talk

Ty Dunitz October 9 Design

You think your phone is a target for would-be identity thieves now? Wait until this phone-as-method-of-payment madness touches down – it’s about to get madder.

As such, we’re probably gonna need more security measures, right? A password certainly isn’t enough, and besides, you don’t want to have to input your password every time anyway.

Well, get a load of this. Or, half a load at least, if you’re strapped for time. Researchers have been working on using the built-in accelerometers in modern smartphones to measure a person’s gait – that is, the way he or she walks – to identify the owner of the phone.

Believe it or not, your gait is almost as unique as your fingerprint, and almost as difficult to perfectly emulate. By gathering the the information of your walk across three dimensions, the accelerometer can tell if it’s you, or an aspiring thief doing his best impression of you.

Unfortunately, at this stage of the game, the thief might be able to do it. Testing showed that current accelerometers in phones were still incorrect about 20% of the time. But the future isn’t far away, and surely accelerometers will be higher resolution before we know it.

Frankly, I’m interested to see how this pans out. Passwords suck, but one question I’m really begging to ask is – since we’re touching our phones almost perpetually throughout the day anyway… why don’t we just use our fingerprints? They’re more reliable anyway. Just sayin’, guys.

Written by Ty Dunitz

Ty is an illustrator who stays up too late, and has to wear glasses. You can follow him on Twitter if you want to (@glitchritual), but he's just gonna throw your stupid PR crap in the garbage, so don't email him.

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  • A person’s gait might be “as unique as your fingerprint”, but this method can only be practical if it’s as unchangable as my fingerprint. If I stop going to the gym, will my phone accuse me of theft six months later?

    Just my thoughts.

  • Koen, hahaha! You do make a nice point. Nevertheless what I believe makes the problem even worse is that as you distance yourself from real money the crime seams to be of minor importance. Stealing live money seams harsher than stealing a CC. Stealing a cellular seams even less severe. And that makes it a much bigger problem.

    Pincodes seam like the standard way to go. I wouldn’t go to jail on the same day I broke my leg! 😉

  • One of the reasons I use a Blackberry is for the security. I have a feeling in the next few years, it will become much more mainstream to do a lot of your shopping and business transactions straight from your phone. Technology like this will also greatly help protect yourself and any private data you may have.

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