Sensory suggests a natural approach to strong app authentication with AppLock

May 11, 2016 - 

Smart phones have advanced the introduction of biometrics into the mass consumer market through the inclusion of fingerprint sensors. Individual’s use of their personal devices to communicate both private and business information has also created a mass market security niche for biometrics, but are fingerprints the logical biometric of choice for securing your apps and data?

Sensory has launched a free, easy-to-use app to secure Android devices with voice and facial recognition, the company announced Wednesday. AppLock utilizes impenetrable deep learning biometric fusion technology and liveness detection, and the company says it provides twice the security of the best fingerprint and iris sensors with near instant user verification when unlocking apps.

The technical standards and conventional consumer understanding of fingerprint accuracy are based largely on uses besides smart phones; law enforcement, border services, and their fictionalized counterparts. These have little to do with how people naturally use their phones, however. The fingerprint hardware in those cases is also very different from that smart phones equipped with.

“We don’t see face and voice as somehow replacing fingerprints,” said Dr. Gordon Haupt, Senior Director of Vision Technologies at Sensory told BiometricUpdate.com. Instead, he sees them as all part of a comprehensive approach, based on and tailored for real world uses. Smart phones are ideal for facial and voice authentication, as even the cameras on older model phones provide the definition necessary for highly accurate facial recognition. Looking at the phone and speaking are also built into the smart phone user experience.

“They’re natural ways of interacting, of course. They also both work very well together. There are some deeper aspects that we look at in terms of the way the face and the voice are interacting, in the case where you have both biometrics available,” said Dr. Haupt. “We see those as potentially working very well with fingerprints as well,” he adds, noting the onboard fingerprint sensors are getting better.

Face and voice recognition are the two most popular biometrics for Android security apps on the Google Play Store, according to Sensory. AppLock, which is currently available from the Play Store, combines them to provide the layered protection of both, yet with an unobtrusive user experience.

“Security apps are an interesting category on the Google Play Store. We’ve found that in order to keep mobile users using a security app long-term, it must possess significant security advantages while not obstructing the user experience. The moment an app becomes inconvenient, it gets deleted. For this reason, we purposefully designed AppLock to be extremely secure, yet simple to set up, robust in features and discreet in function,” said Dr. Haupt.

Sensory’s TrulySecure deep learning technology powers AppLock, providing industry-leading recognition accuracy, the company says. The app settings can be customized to unlock apps using whichever method works first, in “Convenience Mode,” or to require both in “TrulySecure” mode. Liveness detection can also be enabled in AppLock to block authentication of a photograph.

Setup takes less than a minute, which includes looking into the front-facing camera and repeating a passphrase three times.

Dr. Haupt says the user defined password represents the highest impact new feature, combining a natural user experience with another potential challenge for would-be attackers. “If they haven’t heard you use the phrase, they’re not even going to get to the voice accuracy,” he said.

Voice recognition in smart phones is already well established, as shown by Samsung’s recent re-commitment to Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree speech recognition technology. As the public understanding of biometrics and digital security in general evolves, the smart phone market may not stick with the original fingerprint scanners as standard, despite its status as the first widely adopted biometric.

Sensory hopes AppLock raises the profile of other biometrics, and drives more developers and hardware manufacturers to license its TrulySecure technology. If the company is proved right about the high level of security it provides, and the ease of use, the app will position Sensory to build on its established client base.

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About Chris Burt

Chris Burt is a writer and contributor to Biometric Update. He has also written nonfiction about information technology, dramatic arts, sports culture, and fantasy basketball, as well as fiction about a doomed astronaut. He lives in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @AFakeChrisBurt."