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New security system may prevent portable devices being stolen

Finnish scientists have created a security system for mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices, based on identifying owners' walking styles. The new technology is developed by VTT Technical Research Centre. The device could be commercially available within three years, and may prevent millions of portable appliances being stolen every year.

The system involves sensors, which monitor their owners' walking styles. Because devices such as mobile phones and PDAs were often kept in pockets or belt clips, the sensors actively monitor the way the owner walks when the device is used for the first time. The measurements are saved in the sensor's memory and the sensors then monitor the walking style of anyone who carries the device.

"The acceleration sensor measures the frequency of your steps and how high your step is," says a research professor Heikki Ailisto. "It learns your walking style in the first day. If the walking style is similar enough, then you are the rightful owner of the device. If it strongly decides this has been stolen, then it will lock the device and ask you for a password." The identification had been 90 percent accurate during testing. Compared with passwords and traditional bio-identification, the new method is simple: confirmation of identity takes place as a background process without any need for user's intervention.