People with disabilities shouldn’t have to choose device usability over security — researcher

People with disabilities shouldn’t have to choose device usability over security — researcher

Makers of consumer electronics who address accessibility typically work on vision aids, but people who cannot adequately control their arms and hands have a more fundamental problem. Too many never get past a password or biometric fingerprint challenge.

While research shows biometrics are sometimes used as a workaround, other users are so frustrated with having to use a feature that most take for granted that they disable their devices’ security altogether just so they can use even the basic functions of smartphones and other hardware.

So, working with a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Krishna Venkatasubramanian, a computer science assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island has started looking for a solution.

Venkatasubramanian said the problem has gone largely overlooked by the electronics industry and research communities.

That is surprising given how many people can have their dexterity diminished or eliminated.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can rob people of their ability to deftly control finger movements, for example. But so can strokes, accidents, nerve damage, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.

His work is ongoing, but according to the University of Rhode Island, Venkatasubramanian is looking into systems to track a user’s gaze in combination with biometric security steps.

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