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Toys Security Technology

Future Cell Phone Knows You By Your Walk 156

Posted by Zonk
from the i-want-my-gun-to-know-me-better dept.
jangobongo writes "Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have come up with a unique way to secure your cell phone if it should get lost or stolen: 'Gait code'. Motion sensors in the phone would monitor the walking pattern (or gait) of whoever is in possession of the phone, and if the 'gait' doesn't match a pre-established biometric the phone would require a password to operate. The prototype cell phone correctly identified when it was being carried by someone other than its owner 98% of the time. The research team points out (powerpoint document) that this method could also work for PDAs, laptops, USB tokens, smart cards, wallets, suitcases, and guns."
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Future Cell Phone Knows You By Your Walk

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  • But (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:40AM (#13796727)
    I'm a wheelchair you insensitive clod. Anyone who can roll can pretend to be me.
    • At least Keith Richards is safe. Nobody can rock like him...
    • by fatgav (555629)
      What about people who ride horses? That'll confuse the little blighter!
    • Same goes for all those ignorant fools who use their cell phones while driving. Like the bastard that pulled over in front of me on the highway two nights ago. I had just pulled over into an exit lane and was still doing 60, heading for a loop around onto another highway and as I came up level with him, he suddenly decided he needed to be in my lane as well. His back end can't have been more than about 4 feet in front of me. His indicator flicked once and he moved over. There's *no* way he couldn't hav
      • by gfilion (80497)

        [...]I want a hotline where I can call in time, place and license plate of people like that.

        I tought that there was allready such a thing in every part of the civilized world! :-) At least in the province of Québec, you can dial *4141 on any cell phone for free and get connected to the provincial police (SQ) [gouv.qc.ca]. I call them all the time to report accidents and vehicules in distress.

        • by Cunk (643486)
          Do you really think the police want people calling them about traffic events like the one he described?
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:42AM (#13796734) Homepage
    If the gait biometric fails, and the system falls back to a password, then the system is still no stronger than a password based authentication scheme. So why add the extra complication and expense that developing this technology must surely add?
    • by Mad Merlin (837387) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:45AM (#13796743) Homepage
      If the gait biometric fails, and the system falls back to a password, then the system is still no stronger than a password based authentication scheme. So why add the extra complication and expense that developing this technology must surely add?

      Because the device isn't secure at all when the owner turns off the password protection because they're tired of entering their password. If they only have to enter it 2% of the time, they're less likely to disable it.

      I think we can both agree that password protection is better than nothing.

    • And what's wrong with password auth on phones anyway? If the phone's stolen then it's out of your possession - you lose, whether the theif can use it or not. I'm sure the amount they can run up in calls before you block it (assuming your provider even holds you accountable, which AFAIK most don't) is trivial compared to the cost of the phone you just lost.
      • And what's wrong with password auth on phones anyway? If the phone's stolen then it's out of your possession - you lose, whether the theif can use it or not.

        Emm, I have my complete schedule on mine, contacts, email. It has cookies to online sites with auto-log in (e.g. eBay). It CAN be used to run up calls until the network can block it, including data calls. With many phones, you can do a hard-reset that brings them to an out-the-box state, including erasing the password. So, a smart crook might manage t

    • ...why add the extra complication and expense that developing this technology must surely add?

      Because it's an almost perfect way to save users the time of entering their password, the effort of locking their phone all the time, and/or the expense of having some steal and use their phone. Most phones won't let you enter more than a handful of password tries anyway.

      Hmm... someone should do a statistical study to see what numbers (birthdates/years, phone numbers, etc...) people are most likely to use for th

      • I don't see what advantage this has over, say, fingerprint authentication. I pick up my phone, finger print is verified as I hold it, and off we go.
        • I don't see what advantage this has over, say, fingerprint authentication. I pick up my phone, finger print is verified as I hold it, and off we go.

          Up in Canada, it's nice to not have to take off your gloves. It's cold outside, and if you're carrying stuff in your other hand it can be difficult to do. (You end up trying to place a call with a glove held in your teeth.)

          Also, a fingerprint scanner involves a surface on the telephone's exterior that has to be kept fairly clean and is vulnerable to pointy

        • Some people are relly disconnected with reality.

          The walking-thing works autmatically. No need to do anything, you can use your phone just as if it weren't protected at all.

          PINs, fingerprinting and most other biometrics, require user interaction and are not automatic.

          The advantage is pretty obvious. I really find it hard to believe that anybody can't see the advantage.

      • >Hmm... someone should do a statistical >study to see what numbers >(birthdates/years, phone numbers, etc...) >people are most likely to use for their >PIN's, and see if it's possible to guess >like 80% within 3 tries. I bet it is >possible.

        I'm sure someone out there has done such a study. Would be interesting to see the results.

        I suspect a large fraction of all pin numbers are dates within the last 50 years, and a smaller fraction are historically important dates.

        If you get a few trie
    • it is a password protected system which only queries for a password when you fail biometric authentication. essentially it is more convenient than a password system that queries on usage or on time intervals. also because it registers by the way you walk, the authentication is hands and voice free.

      i suppose for ultra security you could have the gait biometric which defaults to some other traditional biometric. but thats expensive and somewhat impractical for the average person.
    • Convenience. This is likely to be cheaper to implement than, say, fingerprint detection, doesn't add any external breakable parts, and is certainly less intrusive.
    • If someone steals the phone from you, not only have you lost the mobile, the thief could use it to make as many calls as he/she wanted until you contact your phone company. This idea will help to avoid the money loss related to that last situation.
      The idea is not to make authentication better, but to have one! (as, once the mobile is on, you never have to enter the password again).
      I don't know if in the USA it's such a big deal, but in Europe it's not uncommon for mobile thieves to use them to call to for
    • The point of this system is not to add more hard security to the phone. The point is to make it so the user does not have to enter a password every time the phone is used. This also means the user is less likely to turn the password off, leaving the phone open and clear for anyone to use.

      And don't give me the old song about how users should take responsiblity for their own information. Considering the number of people who are willing to give away their passwords for a candy bar [google.com], you simply can not tru
    • In fact, its a lot weaker than a password based scheme, since in 2% of cases where the phone is stolen (equivalent to requiring a 2 digit passcode with 1 retry allowed), it allows the thief to use the phone without a password.

      You can't get rid of the password backup, what if you injure your leg and need to call for help?

  • by turgid (580780) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:43AM (#13796735) Journal

    Imagine when you've had 6-8 pints of Heavy and you stumble out of the pub and try to phone a taxi.

    Have you ever tried typing in a password after a gallon of beer?

    Never mind, there's always the beer scooter.

  • Great. (Score:2, Insightful)

    So, someone gets hit by a car, struggles to their feet, limps along a bit and then pulls out their phone to call for help... and it doesn't work.

    Nice one.

    • Ever notice how when you enter your PIN # when you turn on your phone, you can still dial 911 or 112 or whatever? even without a pin? Even without a SIM card? Or how you can still dial the emergency numbers when your phone's keylock is on? I expect this would work in the same way.
    • That's why you shouldn't try to move after an accident: you'll activate your phone's security lockout, duh!
  • by ThinkingInBinary (899485) <thinkinginbinary AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:45AM (#13796744) Homepage

    I R'dTFA, and they said that one of the things that alters the user's gait "code" is when they're drunk. If you paired a Bluetooth phone with a car, and added this, it could be a biometric way of making sure someone doesn't drive drunk. Just a thought.

    • What about when you put it in your bag? There is a different rhythm for something being carried in a bag or a coat pocket. What about when you run? What about when you're in a car? Hell, what about when you're in a lift, or in an escalator? Does jumping over a puddle trigger this?
    • Cool idea. But, if I was running hard during my workout, my gait will change because of pain and stiffness for a day or so. I'd be screwed while I'm healing from an intense workout. Then again, I'm a bit cranky while I'm healing so it might be a good thing if I can't take calls. Especially from customers.
    • "Hey Bob, why don't we take your car?"

      "Awwwww, can't. I dropped my phone."

      It's possible to take this "convergence" thingy way too far. The failure of one system should not cause the failure of another, unrelated, system.

      KFG
      • Hey, it was just a thought. Relax.

        Why don't they just make cars where you have to play a 10-second game of Simon before it starts? That would solve the problem!

        • Relax.

          I'm quite relaxed, but thank you for your concern.

          Why don't they just make cars where you have to play a 10-second game of Simon before it starts?

          A better solution, but they already have cars with ignition interlocks hooked up to more direct means of detecting the imbibing of alcohol. None of them are perfect, of course, as none of them ever will be.

          KFG
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:47AM (#13796747)
    And if you are lugging a carry-on and a laptop bag on the way to your flight, what stops the phone from deciding you are not you because the added weight changes your gait? TFA said the false alarm (accidental lockout) rate was 4%. I'd bet the rate is much worse if you are carrying something (suitcase, kid, groceries, etc.)
    • I completely agree.

      More importantly, this would only identify you correctly if you always carried the phone in the same orientation and location of your body. It's perfect for people who clip their phones to their belt. How about the many who carry it in a handbag, or in various pockets?

      I think it's a great idea nonetheless, since it still increases the odds that a password protection scheme will actually be activated when it's needed.
  • But only for people walking as usual before starting shooting.
  • by Roofus (15591) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:49AM (#13796755) Homepage
    Time for 100 different posters to point out 200 different situations where they think this technology will fail.

    And it all must be true, because the engineers who spent years designing this must be complete idiots, and would never think of these things on their own.

    Ready, set, go!
    • "...the engineers who spent years designing this must be complete idiots, and would never think of these things on their own."

      Ah, if only sarcasm were a form of proof. Unfortunately, history reveals that a bunch of people in lab conditions (or, indeed, even during controlled tests) may not actually think up everything. The ability be blinded by new science, to the detriment of old problems, is nothing new. Take Persil Power [wikipedia.org] for instance - years of R&D, along with voluminous testing in particular countri
    • Well.. seriously... for a gun?

      If a police officer gets shot, I'm pretty sure he's going to be walking a little different. And not want to put in a password or anything before trying to shoot back.
      • Well, obviously it would be different for police officers. *Their* guns would read the surgically implanted RFID tag in their hands, so that only a police officer could fire them. The Mk2 version would administer a heavy electric shock to an unauthorised user, certainly deadening that hand for a period of time, if not actually stunning the perp senseless.

        Hey, maybe I could patent that!!

    • Actually, the fact that they spent years working on such an over-the-top yet utterly useless and superficial 'innovation' does make me question their intelligence somewhat.
    • Indeed, they may be complete idiots. Or they might have welded their careers to a small startup which needs this product to be successful, regardless of its actual effectiveness. Or it may be that all the information you're getting about a product is being put out by the marketing drones, who are themselves willfully ignorant of the problems.

      Most of the criticisms I've read so far sound basically correct. If you use this product, it will punish you for letting somebody else carry your equipment. It will
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zocalo (252965) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:50AM (#13796760) Homepage
    I guess this means that you now have to prove that you can "walk the walk" before you can "talk the talk" now?
  • This seems like a better choice of biometric than most, because unlike a finger, it can't be cut off or "cloned" using gelatin or another way of transferring the fingerprint. Now, it might be possible to invent a "bug" that records someone's gait and feeds it to a set of servo motors that convince the phone you're them, but that's beyond what most people's resources and significantly harder than picking up a latent fingerprint.

    • This seems like a better choice of biometric than most, because unlike a finger, it can't be cut off or "cloned" using gelatin or another way of transferring the fingerprint.

      Look, if they want to use the cell that bad, they could just beat phone owner until he gives the PIN number.

      I think he'd unlock it at the first sign of violence and say "GEE! I have only 1400 minutes left on my plan so here you go!"

      Saying that security systems fail because you cut their finger off is a moot point because if you've gone
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:54AM (#13796776)
    I mean really. It's a phone. Have it recognize my voice. Why have it recognize my walk? But this does give me an idea - why not a pair of shoes that cause blisters if they don't recognize my voice? You have to keep talking to them or they tighten up on you. Maxwell Smart (rest his soul) was on to something I think.
    • But this does give me an idea - why not a pair of shoes that cause blisters if they don't recognize my voice?

      No reason to research them - finnish stores are already full of such shoes. Now, if someone would research shoes that don't cause me blisters if they recognize my voice...

  • Oh IIIII can't dance, IIIIII can't talk, only thing about me is the way my cell phone recognizes my gait...
  • They 'must' have got it from our own DARPA's defunct Information Awareness Office. The Total Information Awareness mission. Part of it was called HumanID, which could recognize people from far distances by their gait.

    ooo.. I sound so fancy

    Wiki
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Information_Awa reness [wikipedia.org]
  • Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
    I'm a woman's man: no time to talk.

    I guess now I will have time to talk afterall!

    Ah ah ah ah stayin' alive!
  • Hookers with cell phones -- can you imagine the gait motion?

    Woot!

    -kgj
  • 'gait' (Score:4, Funny)

    by BushCheney08 (917605) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @08:13AM (#13796830)
    ...and if the 'gait' doesn't match...

    There's really no need to put the word gait in quotes. The definition of the word fits exactly with how they're using it. Maybe we should start randomly putting other perfectly cromulent words in quotes. Let me continue with the rest of that sentence:
    ...and if the 'gait' doesn't match a pre-established 'biometric' the 'phone' would require a 'password' to 'operate.'

    </pedant>
    • by Xtifr (1323)
      Well...technically speaking, it doesn't measure the person's gait; it measures its own motions, which we assume/hope are an accurate reflection of the owner's gait. But technically, it's not the gait that's being measured, so quotes are not entirely innapropriate here.

      Note: I'm not in the habit of defending the slashdot "editors", but on the other hand, it's pretty rare that I can think of any justification for defending them, which is why I put quotes around "editor". :)
  • News Flash! Gait Monitoring cell phones now also notify you if you are gay!
  • I'm sorry officer Dave, but it looks like you quickly picked up your movement right before you picked up your gun, and I'm not sure it's you any more. Please enter your 8 digit code into combination-lock device to unlock your gun so it will fire...

    Dave? Dave? Are you there, Dave?
  • You accidentally break your leg... so much for the cell-phone. These technologies rely too much on individual habits that may change. Samsung recently released a cell-phone protected by fingerprint technology. That type is protection is much stronger than protection based on walking habit. The holy grail, would of course have a cell-phone protected by eye biometrics.

    Gait codes are simply too dependent on individual habits too be of any use. Plus, given enough time and a good enough heart, anybody can fig
    • I would like a cellphone to be dependent on my penis activities. More specifically I'd want it to shut down if unusual erection patterns and length is detected.
    • Of course that would be the holy grail for a *phone*. Because I hold up my phone to my eye all the time. The fact that the folds in the outer idea are unique for each person and could be used as an identifier should not get in the way of a *holy grail*...
      • Of course sarcasm makes me look like more of a dick when I leave a typo in the wrong place.

        Should have read 'outer ear'. Also, voiceprints would be more normal for a phone...
  • The prototype cell phone correctly identified when it was being carried by someone other than its owner 98% of the time.

    98% of the time? That would be like having a password that people could guess 2% of the time. I'd rather have a password that people could guess 0% of the time. It's a neat idea, but especially if you're going to have sensitive information on the device, or the device can be used to make phone calls that you pay for, I would want something a little harder to duplicate than my gait.

  • by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @08:48AM (#13796939) Journal
    I think all the critics of this are right, yet they are missing the point, which is not even that the std pin is the backup

    Technology succeeds largely if it panders to one of the dominant human traits - lazyness.
    If the gait thing means i can save 5 secs, or maybe more on a cold day with gloves that have to be taken off, it will have a good chance in the market.
  • Hmmn, could be tough news trying to sell a second-hand gun belonging to a Russian roulette player, then: "Only works when pointed at your own head."

    Q:"How can you tell whether your cellphone was owned by a redneck?" A:"It only works when you're humping your sister"

    As for wallets, well I guess folks tend to steal them for what's inside them. How many successful muggers grab your wallet, empty the contents on the floor and flee with the wallet, leaving you with all your cash and cards still intact.
  • I dodn't call because I subbed my toe.
  • the only ringtone availible on this phone will be "walk this way"
  • Say you're running away. Really, what other time do you desperately need to be able to use your cell phone? Presumably these phones would be able to dial 911 without any kind of login.
  • Didn't RTFA but do you have to be in motion while trying to use the
    phone?

  • This is exactly the kind of thing that biometrics should be used for. Biometrics do not, in general, provide much in the way of security, but they can do a great job of making low-security systems much more *convenient* to use. Biometrics are an excellent choice when the alternative is no security at all.

    This particular use is also good in that when the biometric technology fails, there is a backup (password) that is *more* secure than the biometric. In other words, it "fails safe", at least for false

  • So everytime I run, hop, skip, or jump (or otherwise walk differently than "normal") my phone is going to ask for a password?
    Yeah, sounds like a feature I'm dying to have.
  • Take a look at cell phone providers, and their offerings... Have you noticed that the ones that tend to have better phone service tend to offer fewer other enticements?

    I'm going to pick on T-mobile and Singular based on feedback from friends who use either service, spread across 4 states. Based on the adds, these two offer some of the widest array of features, like Family-Share plans and Rollover minutes. Based on why my friends tell me, they are also two of the absolute worst service carriers on the m

  • What happens if your leg falls asleep or like every woman I know with a MP3 player you bring it to the gym and use the stair climber for like an hour straight? Or say you just had some dirty sex and were in a weird position and your legs really sore (on your tippie toes) ....can we trust your device will still know its you?
  • With this technology, I can't easily lend out the product. For instance, my family at one point was forced to share a cell phone. This technology would make it an annoyance to share your phone, since you'd have to do the password all the time. If this is applied to other things, it could create a society where people can't share useful things like cars or whatever, which would be great for industries. When I was in High School, there were a lot of families with 2 cars for 3 drivers, and they scheduled it
  • This would go over just great when a rape+attempted murder victim can't call for help because while she could enter 911 after several tries, she can't enter 971356 correctly because she is shaking from shock.
  • I wonder if you can 're-program' the device periodically. As you age, your gait changes; and I wouldn't be surprised if your gait changes based on mood.

    Just a thought, not a criticism.
  • But how many times did it incorrectly identify the actual owner? That's a much more important statistic. Yeah so 98 percent of the time it might be right about you not being the phone's owner. But if it's mis-identifing the owner 98 percent of the time, is that first stat really meaningful?
  • Hello, honey? I'm calling to let you know that I fell and broke my leg, and I need a doctor before I... Hello? Hello?
  • How would this work in places where you can't walk around, such as at a restaurant, lecture, or theater?
  • I use a minimum of three levels of gaits to keep my mobile devices secure;

    for my ipod I use my regular walk to unlock it.
    for my phone I add a slight spring to my step-- which you might say looks flaimboyant, but, whatever ya know-- higher security is cool-- in fact I talk about my gait-scheme at coffee shops a lot
    for my really important flashdrive I have to walk on my hands... kinda a pain since it takes about 50 paces for it to authorize... but it's worth it knowing my gait is secure.

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