What started as a solution for a teacher’s children to bypass his phone password has now caught the attention of the National Science Foundation.
Face and Touch ID have been around for years, but LSU Professor Chen Wang and his students have gone beyond these services and are making smartphones even smarter.
The College of Engineering has developed an app that will verify users by their handle.
Professor Wang explains: “Smartphones, while having Face ID and Touch ID, cannot verify who is actually looking at the phone. So if you put your phone on a table and you get a notification, someone walking by can stare at your screen and invade your privacy.
In the new app, notifications will only be visible if the exact geometry of the hand is holding the phone.
Each app on your phone has a specific “tone” that plays when a notification is displayed, these sounds are measured by the phone’s mic. People have different hand sizes, holding strengths, and hand shapes, which has a different impact on the sounds of each notification. These impressions can then be learned and verified.
Graduate student Long Huang, who assists the project, explains the importance of these impressions.
“Maybe different people grip the phone with different force or even different styles. For example, someone can grip the phone from the top and someone can grip the phone from the bottom. So it’s important and these features will be picked up by phone mic sound.
Dr. Wang and his students know that cybersecurity is a constant battle and have already started thinking about how attackers can find flaws in their application.
One way would be for someone to make a 3D print of the user’s hand. The solution – an on-board camera.
Graduate student Ruxin Wang explains how these cameras could help in the attack. “It can capture the temperature of someone’s hand. If it is a fake hand, we can see that the temperature is low compared to a real hand, which would have a higher temperature.
As they continue to work out the fine details, Professor Wang and his students are heading to Mobi-Com 2021 (postponed due to covid) located in New Orleans on Tuesday, March 29.
There, they will present the application to several high-level scientific conferences in the hope of receiving funding for the project. It is expected that the application will be marketed within three years.