Passwords. Difficult to remember. Simple to hack. Even if you don't use one of most common passwords, attackers have a variety of tools at their disposal to steal your credentials and hijack your accounts. And every so often a bug like Heartbleed comes along, forcing you to spend a weekend resetting them all.
But that may be about to change. A new keyboard designed by a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology can recognize the typing patterns of individual users. That kind of technology could make way for a new form of biometric security for laptops and desktops, potentially putting an end to the headaches caused by lost or stolen passwords for good.
Identifying Users by Their Keystrokes
The keyboard, which was developed by Professor Zhong Lin Wang, is capable of measuring both the amount of force applied to each keystroke and the time interval between strokes. According to Professor Wang, that type of behavior is unique to each individual. More importantly, it is difficult to mimic, according to a paper Wang published along with his research team in the journal ACS Nano.
“This has the potential to be a new means for identifying users,” Wang said in an article on Phys.org. “With this system, a compromised password would not allow a cybercriminal onto the computer. The way each person types even a few words is individual and unique.”
Wang said he tested the technology by recording the electrical patterns generated by more than 104 researchers each typing a single word into the device. According to Wang, his team was able to accurately identify individual users with very low error rates.
Cheap, Durable, and Energy Efficient
The new keyboard could also help make laptops and other devices more energy efficient. That's because the device actually generates electricity when a user types on it. Exploiting an effect known as contact electrification, Wang’s invention is composed of multiple layers of plastic coated with a layer of electrodes. When the materials are brought into contact with each other, such as when the keys are depressed, voltage is generated.
“Our skin is dielectric and we have electrostatic charges in our fingers,” Wang noted. “Anything we touch can become charged.” Beyond reducing the drain on laptop batteries, the technology could also eliminate the need for batteries in wireless keyboards. It could also be used to generate power for additional devices connected to the keyboard.
Despite the advanced technology at work, Wang said that his keyboard is constructed from inexpensive materials that are commonly used in the electronics industry. Furthermore, Wang tested his device under a variety of adverse conditions, such as the usual threats of dirt, oil and water that often befall the keyboards of busy computer users. “You could pour coffee on the keyboard, and it would not be damaged,” Wang said. “Because it is based on a sheet of plastic, liquids will not hurt it.”
Although the device is currently in the prototype phase, it could have potential in a variety of applications and devices, including cash registers, ATMs, and network security systems.
Posted: 2015-01-22 @ 10:37pm PT
@Chris: It's still in development, not available for some time.
Posted: 2015-01-22 @ 5:08pm PT
when is it available