It’s a wonder we still put up with passwords.
We forget our highly secretive combinations, so we frequently have them reset and sent to our cellphones and alternative email addresses. We come up with clever jumbles of letters and words, only to mess up the order. We sit there on the login screen, desperately punching in a code we should know by heart.
Despite their inefficiencies, passwords are still the most common electronic authentication systems, protecting everything from our bank accounts, laptops and email to health information, utility bills and, of course, our Facebook profiles. While fingerprint- and eye- and face-recognition authentication technology is progressing, these biometric security systems haven’t yet gone mainstream.
“How humans interact with biometric devices is critically important for their future success,” said lead researcher Cecilia Aragon, a UW associate professor of human centered design and engineering. “This is the beginning of looking at biometric authentication as a socio-technical system, where not only does it require that it be efficient and accurate, but also something that people trust, accept and don’t get frustrated with.”
Aragon believes one of the reasons face- and eye-recognition systems haven’t taken off is because the user’s experience often isn’t factored into the design. Her team presented its study, one of the first in the field to look at user preferences, at the International Association for Pattern Recognition’s International Conference on Biometrics in June. The researchers found that speed, accuracy and choice of error messages were all important for the success of an eye-tracking system.
“If you develop the technology and user interface in parallel, you can make sure the technology fits the users rather than the other way around,” Aragon said. “It’s very important to have feedback from all stakeholders in the process while you’re designing a biometric identification system.”
The UW team in collaboration with Oleg Komogortsev at Texas State University developed a new biometric authentication technique that identifies people based on their eye movements. They ran subjects through several types of authentication, then asked for feedback on the usability and perceived security.
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