Move over, fingerprints! Scientists have developed a new low-cost security system that senses finger vibrations to accurately identify people and grant access to smart homes, cars or appliances. The smart access system called VibWrite allows user verification when fingers touch any solid surface.
Developed by researchers at Rutgers University in the US, the system integrates passcode, behavioural and physiological characteristics. It builds on a touch-sensing technique by using vibration signals. The system is different from traditional, password-based approaches, as well as behavioural biometrics-based solutions, which typically involve touch screens, fingerprint readers or other costly hardware and lead to privacy concerns and smudge attacks that trace oily residues on surfaces from fingers.
"Everyone's finger bone structure is unique, and their fingers apply different pressures on surfaces, so sensors that detect subtle physiological and behavioural differences can identify and authenticate a person," said Yingying Chen, professor at Rutgers University.
"Smart access systems that use fingerprinting and iris-recognition are very secure, but they are probably more than 10 times as expensive as our VibWrite system, especially when you want to widely deploy them," added Chen.
VibWrite allows users to choose from PINs, lock patterns or gestures to gain secure access, researchers said. The authentication process can be performed on any solid surface beyond touch screens and on any screen size. It is resilient to side-channel attacks, when someone places a hidden vibration receiver on the surface or uses a nearby microphone to capture vibration signals. It also resists several other types of attacks, including when an attacker learns passcodes after observing a user multiple times.
A great benefit is that a VibWrite system is low-cost and uses minimal power. It includes an inexpensive vibration motor and receiver, and it can turn any solid surface into an authentication surface. Both hardware installation and maintenance are easy, and "VibWrite probably could be commercialised in a couple of years," Chen said.
During two trials, VibWrite verified legitimate users with more than 95 per cent accuracy and the false positive rate was less than three per cent. However, the current VibWrite system needs improvements because users may need a few attempts to pass the system. To improve performance, the team will deploy multiple sensor pairs, refine the hardware and upgrade authentication algorithms. They also need to further test the system outdoors to account for varying temperatures, humidity, winds, wetness, dust, dirt and other conditions.