Your typing style could better protect your accounts

An intelligent keyboard can both charge itself and record unique typing patterns, which could be used for biometric authentication

Georgia Tech Professor Zhong Lin Wang and graduate research assistant Jun Chen created a self-powered keyboard that can also be used for biometric authentication based on a person's typing style.

Georgia Tech Professor Zhong Lin Wang and graduate research assistant Jun Chen created a self-powered keyboard that can also be used for biometric authentication based on a person's typing style.

A new type of keyboard could make it irrelevant if your password is divulged, providing a much higher level of computer security.

Researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology embarked on a project to create a keyboard that is powered by individual keystrokes, generating enough juice for a wireless connection.

They accomplished that, building an "intelligent" keyboard that captures a small charge produced when a person's finger touches a plastic material with a coating of an electrode material. That charge could be stored in a lithium ion battery, or used to send a wireless signal.

But during their work, they thought up another application that may have a far wider impact.

They had 104 volunteers type the word "touch" into their intelligent keyboard, which uses simple software to capture information on how hard a key was pressed and the time interval in which the keys were pressed.

It turns out those measurements are quite particular to an individual. Using signal analysis techniques, they identified unique typing patterns among people with a low error rate, a kind of biometric authentication.

Zhong Li Wang, a Regents professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech, said in a phone interview from Beijing on Friday that the patterns become "a very unique personal measurement."

The intelligent keyboard was inexpensive to develop and uses off-the-shelf materials, Wang said. The keys aren't mechanical and are instead made up of vertically-stacked transparent film materials. Keystrokes produce a periodic electrical field.

His team is still working on making the keyboard more reliable, but he thinks it could be commercialized in as little as two years.

What if a person breaks a finger and the typing pace changes? Wang said that scenario could affect whether a person is able to access a system, and there might have to be a secondary authentication mechanism.

But the beauty of using the intelligent keyboard for passwords is that it would matter much less if cybercriminals had someone's login credentials, as they wouldn't be able to replicate the typing style.

The research was funded as part of a six-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to study nano power generation.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Georgia Institute of Technologysecurity

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?