As we continue to capture behavioral data, new ways of authentication continue to be invented. One of the newest forms involves a special keyboard that captures your identity through your keystrokes, key pressure analysis, and the general patterns in which you type. This device also uses the “mechanical stimuli” from pressing a key and converts it into energy. Apparently, this produces enough energy to power commercial electronics, as long as you can type faster than 100 words per minute.
The mastermind behind the device is Professor Zhong Lin Wang at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The device creates a unique typing fingerprint that monitors not only the time intervals between specific keystrokes, but also the pressure of each keystroke. The discovery of the uniqueness in the way we type was discovered as follows:
104 volunteers type[d] 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.
What’s fascinating about this type of authentication technology is that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to falsify identification. An individual generates their unique typing profile over a lifetime of typing and associated muscle memory. Attempting to mimic another individuals typing patterns would require identifying and implementing precision time intervals between every key, pressure on each key, and creating exact muscle memory alignment; an unlikely feat. An analogy of the difficulty could be that of a beginner pianist needing to play “Ravel Gaspard” (an extremely challenging piano piece) without ever having played the piano. Even with notes, without muscle memory developed from years of practice, the task is impossible.
The ability to charge commercial devices from the mechanical stimuli during typing is an interesting innovation. While 100 words per minute may not be out of the reach of many, sustained typing at that rate for sufficient time to charge your device is unlikely; unless your writing a book and you don’t care about typos. It’s also worth noting that the device is coated with a special protectant to keep it in tip-top shape on an ongoing basis. You can read the original article about the device on ACS by clicking here.
What are your thoughts on the device? Do you think keystrokes could become the new standard for authentication? Does charging while typing appeal to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.