Has Google just killed the password?

So how will it work? The concept is easy, but the pull a face password will require you to do some work to make it difficult to crack, much like a regular password. However, instead of thinking up crazy word plays, or inserting random special characters you need to learn to pull funny faces to stick out your tongue. In other words these are the most secure passwords that you can get, yet they can be mastered by five-year olds.
Anybody who has bought a new laptop in the past few years may have come across similar technology. The difference here, hence Google’s patent, is that you can’t beat the Google system with photographs. This is the reason behind pulling funny faces, so you need to pull a face which you won’t find on any photographs of you.

The patent is underpinned by the use of a “facial landmark”, allowing the system to compare your regular photo with your ‘landmark picture’ in order to check that it’s really you trying to unlock your device. Facial landmarks can include open-mouthed smiles, sticking out your tongue and frowning.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Will this lead to more people using phone and tablet passwords?

People are statistically most likely to password secure their personal computers. This is followed by their tablet and ends with their smart phone, which is least likely to carry protection. This is in an inverse relationship to the danger of theft, as people generally carry their phone around with them all day long. So why is that?

Seemingly the answer lies in speed of access. The average person activates their smart phone (essentially, checks their phone) over one hundred times per day. These are brief interactions, often limited to simply checking that no new messages have come through. Compare this usage behaviour to your PC, where you will often turn it on to do a days work. Or your laptop, when you may logon to watch a movie or write a document. Its less painful to go to the effort of putting in a password in order to carry out an hours work, but do you really want to put in a pa

sword to simply check your phone messages?

Clearly most don’t, and for many their table

t sits in the middle of the spectrum, with medium term usage making it acceptable to put in your password. Does pulling a funny face fix this?

In my opinion it doesn’t. I am not convinced that this solves the time problem that is the hold back for mobile users. Take the iPhone, you can input a super quick 4 digit pin number, yet that’s too time consuming. Posing for one regular picture followed by pulling a funny face sounds more time-consuming. If you add in the possibility of misreading from the device and errors caused by bad light or other environmental factors, it sounds like a recipe for user irritence.

So if it’s not necessarily quicker, is it more secure?

In theory it should be. Google have clearly moved beyond your regular photofit password, with its inherent flaws. Therefore, is this a piece of technology best suited to mobile devices, as the patent suggests, or is it actually better for your most secure logins? Take internet banking, an area where every user takes their password seriously, often having to go through numerous layers of security. Pulling a funny face to get through that could be a real winner. It will be interesting to follow this technology as it properly launches, to see how its application emerges.

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