The market for smart security access systems is expected to grow rapidly, reaching nearly $10 billion by 2022. Today's smart security access systems mainly rely on traditional techniques that use intercoms, cameras, cards, or fingerprints to authenticate users. These systems require costly equipment, complex hardware installation, and diverse maintenance needs.

An experimental setup of VibWrite on a wooden table and door panel. (Image courtesy of Rutgers DAISY Lab)

VibWrite is a smart access system that senses finger vibrations to verify users. The low-cost security system could eventually be used to gain access to homes, apartment buildings, cars, appliances, or anything else with a solid surface. Since everyone's finger bone structure is unique, and their fingers apply different pressures on surfaces, sensors that detect subtle physiological and behavioral differences can identify and authenticate a person.

VibWrite integrates passcode, behavioral, and physiological characteristics, and builds on a touch-sensing technique by using vibration signals. It differs from traditional, password-based approaches that validate passwords instead of legitimate users, as well as behavioral biometrics-based solutions that typically involve touchscreens, fingerprint readers, or other costly hardware and lead to privacy concerns and “smudge attacks” that trace oily residues on surfaces from fingers.

The system allows users to choose from PINs, lock patterns, or gestures to gain secure access. The authentication process can be performed on any solid surface beyond touchscreens, and on any screen size. It is resilient to “side-channel attacks” — when someone places a hidden vibration receiver on the surface or uses a nearby microphone to capture vibration signals. It also resists several other types of attacks, including when an attacker learns passcodes after observing a user multiple times. The VibWrite system is low-cost and uses minimal power. It includes an inexpensive vibration motor and receiver, and it can turn any solid surface into an authentication surface.

During two trials, VibWrite verified legitimate users with more than 95 percent accuracy, and the false positive rate was less than 3 percent. To improve performance, the researchers will deploy multiple sensor pairs, refine the hardware, and upgrade authentication algorithms. The system will be tested outdoors to account for varying temperatures, humidity, wind, wetness, dust, dirt, and other conditions.

For more information, contact Todd B. Bates at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 848-932-0550.


Sensor Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2018 issue of Sensor Technology Magazine.

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