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Students develop facial recognition app that secures smartphones with a selfie


Three West Virginia University students have developed an app that uses facial recognition technology to protect private data on a smartphone by taking a selfie, according to a report by The Daily Athenaeum.

Alex Dunn, Walter Ferrell and Steven Amerman worked together to develop SecureSelfies, an app that uses biometrics technology and facial recognition to protect sensitive material on smart phones.

“We use our algorithms to authenticate your facial data, among other factors, to unlock the sensitive parts of your device that you’d normally want to keep away from prying eyes,” Ferrell said. “Our implementation of biometrics makes sure that you— alive and presence required — and only you can access the data that’s locked. Passwords and lock codes can be cracked, a system that judges your facial data is a much trickier thing to deceive.”

Dunn, Ferrell and Amerman completed the assignment, assigned by Thirimachos Bourlai, assistant professor in WVU’s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, in a span of a week.

The students, who also work at Bourlai’s Multispectral Imaging Lab, were then asked to present to a panel of investors.

The technology is currently being licensed through WVU to Confirmix, a software security company.

Enlisting the help of Confirmix, a startup formed by Thirimachos Bourlai, Ph.D., director of WVU’s Multispectral Imagery Laboratory, the students are expected to launch the app commercially by April 2015.

The students have also launched a Kickstarter campaign for the app, which is currently at $13,165 of its $50,000 goal. The campaign closes on December 14 and will only be funded if it reaches its goal.

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