Someday soon, you may be able to log into your smartphone with sweeping gestures or doodling, using one or more fingers.
Rutgers University researchers have performed the first study of free-form gesture passwords for smartphones in the field. Free-form gesture passwords allow people to draw a password of any shape with any number of fingers, according to Janne Lindqvist, study coauthor and an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering.
The Rutgers group’s results, combined with its previous studies, show that free-form gesture passwords are a serious alternative to text or other log-in methods, especially for mobile devices, according to Lindqvist. Free-form gesture passwords are very suitable for touchscreens, faster to use, easy to remember and hard to guess.
Previous work by other researchers found that text passwords and PINs were hard to use, easy to compromise and unsuitable for mobile devices. Their shortcomings include limited password space, susceptibility to “shoulder surfing” and slow entry, according to Lindqvist.
The Rutgers study explored how 91 people used free-form gesture passwords in their daily lives. The researchers installed software on their Android smartphones and the participants created 347 text passwords and 345 gesture passwords. They completed 2,002 log-in tasks involving eight virtual accounts in their smartphones.
Each participant was asked to create and recall passwords for two different sets of accounts created for the study. The first set contained two virtual accounts: online banking and social network. The second set included six accounts: email, online gaming, online dating, shopping, online course and music streaming.
The results showed that the participants preferred shapes (49.28 percent) and letters (24.07 percent) for their gesture passwords versus lines (15.76 percent). Participants also preferred single-finger gestures (93.62 percent) over multi-finger ones.
Participants who used gesture passwords spent 22 percent less time logging in and 42 percent less time creating passwords, on average.
Free-form gestures could be expanded to laptops and tablet/laptop combos with touch screens – even doors with touch screens instead of key locks or swipe cards. They also could expanded to access to services over the Internet, according to Lindqvist.
More information on the study and previous studies is available on this website: http://securegestures.org.