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Mobile app uses hand movement to authenticate smartphone owner


Scientists in Russia are developing a biometric app which allows a smartphone to recognize its owner by the characteristic movement of the hand when answering a call.

Developed by the Institute of Cyber Intelligence Systems at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Russia, InCallAuth will use data from the smartphone’s accelerator, gyroscope, and light sensor.

The application takes into account three key parameters including the initial device position, the speed of the movement of the hand holding the smartphone, and the change of the phone’s position in space.

In the event that InCallAuth does not recognize the device’s owner, the user will be required to enter the correct password in order to answer the incoming call.

The team said it plans to offer the mobile app, which only works on OC Android devices, on PlayMarket in February 2018.

Users will need to launch the app and raise it to the ear a few times, just as they would when answering a call. The app remembers the related parameters and will use the data for the next incoming call.

“Research groups of the Copenhagen University have found out that the hand movement when answering the incoming call is individual for each person,” said Konstantin Kogos, supervisor of the developers’ team. “Applications on market with similar functions have been downloaded about 20 million times, so there is interest in call protection. These mostly require more active user interactions involving PIN numbers and passwords.”

Meanwhile, senior research fellow Stanislav Protasov believes that authentication by hand movements and gait is the future because it is incredibly difficult to copy these parameters.

“Authentication methods by characteristic hand movements have precision of 95 percent, so the error rate will be small, the phone will be blocked les than once out of 20 times,” Protasov said. “Research into behavioral biometry is conducted by many research groups, including our laboratory—we study human identification by gait.

“Such methods are a response reaction to the fact that classical methods of biometrical identification are easily deceived. For example, special glasses can disconcert FRS. It is practically impossible to counterfeit gait or habitual hand movements.”

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