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Smart Phones Could Know Their Users By How They Walk

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the just-for-the-ministry-of-silly-walks dept.

Cellphones 96

mirgens writes "Technology Review has a short article on new work on gait analysis with the accelerometers built into many smart phones. The work was done at the Norwegian Information Security Laboratory ('Nislab'). The need for more security on mobile devices is increasing with new functionalities and features made available. To improve device security, Nislab proposed gait recognition as a protection mechanism — in other words, if somebody else walks away with your phone, it locks up. While previous work on gait recognition used video sources, for instance to identify people in airports or secure buildings, the Nislab researchers collected the gait data using a Google G1 phone containing the AK8976A embedded accelerometer." What if you're running from a mugger and want to dial 911?

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What if you're running from a mugger and want to d (5, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844360)

What if you're running from a mugger and want to dial 911?

Then don't lock out emergency functions - similar to the way that (in the US at least) phones without a valid subscription can still call 911.

SMART ph..:What if you're running from a mugger .. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844400)

The phone would call for you. That is why it is called a SMART phone.

OnSmart App (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844478)

Speaking of 911 and accelerometers...

I've long wondered if you could write a smart phone app that monitors the accelerometer for a roll over collision and calls 911 like OnStar. You could have it enabled only when the phone is in a car dock or something. Perhaps for sudden jolts like a rear-end collision it could say "I'm going to call 911 in one minute unless you tell me you're alright."

Re:OnSmart App (0, Troll)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845540)

You mean, like OnStar?

Like this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8As1zshWxn0 [youtube.com] :D

Re:OnSmart App (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33845712)

You mean, like OnStar?

Yeah, that's why I fucking said, "like OnStar" in the first place.

Re:OnSmart App (0, Troll)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845804)

Chill the fuck out. I read your entire comment.
My point was, why should your phone do something that your car should do (or already does do)?

Re:OnSmart App (1)

zim2411 (700459) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845854)

Cause most people don't have OnStar. I don't know anybody with it.

Re:OnSmart App (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 3 years ago | (#33846164)

and some A nearby call centre around here has (or at least had) the Canadian contract for OnStar and I've heard some hard to credit but plausible anecdotes about the amount of information the system has on you and how little there is in the way of abuse prevention. Based on these, I would never knowingly buy a vehicle that even had the system installed, let alone activated and subscription paid for. (Apparently; among other problems, the system as set up makes it difficult to transfer ownership to a used car unless the new owner also contracts with OnStar. Until then, most of the time OnStar records still show the original owner, which means the original owner can still call OnStar and get help disabling what is now your car)

Re:OnSmart App (2, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#33847154)

My point was, why should your phone do something that your car should do (or already does do)?

You do know that OnStar is only available as OEM equipment on GM (Government Motors) vehicles, right? Oh and Saab, like anyone buys those.

Dupe.. (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 3 years ago | (#33846122)

This story is old/a dupe. This was announced quite a while back. I can't find a lot of the old info thanks to this recent story but here's one from last year and I'm sure there are some from a couple years ago..

http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1655066&dl=GUIDE&coll=GUIDE&CFID=108009773&CFTOKEN=58257172 [acm.org]

Re:Dupe.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33984514)

In the referred article they just claim that they can do gait recognition with a phone, but this research actually does what the other article only claims.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (3, Funny)

PaulOShea (79691) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844414)

If you're trying to dial the cops while running from a mugger I predict an encounter with a sturdy lamppost, street sign or news stand in your very near future.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844448)

If you're trying to dial the cops while running from a mugger I predict an encounter with a sturdy lamppost, street sign or news stand in your very near future.

That would be different from normal Americans at any other time how? Seriously they are the most bovine idiots imaginable. They frequently walk in one direction while looking in another and if they run into you while doing that they get pissed at you for being there and not themselves for failing to pay attention to where they're going. If they're going to slam into me anyway I make sure it's a nice sharp elbow they contact to let them taste a little Darwinism. Usually when they do this they're yakking on the cell phone. Somehow I can talk on a cell phone without disregarding all awareness of my environment, it comes from not being a bovine idiot with a deer-in-headlights outlook on life.

What America so badly needs is some kind of man-eating animal that stands no chance against you unless it can surprise you. That would fix stupid. Then the ones left would say "hey maybe paying attention to what goes on around me and not being 100% completely self absorbed is a good idea." Holy shit they might even extend that philosophy to politics and start questioning their representatives.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844518)

You had me until, "Somehow I can talk on a cell phone without disregarding all awareness of my environment, it comes from not being a bovine idiot with a deer-in-headlights outlook on life."

Every single one of them thinks the same thing. Newsflash: you're one of them.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845338)

Every single one of them thinks the same thing. Newsflash: you're one of them.

That's a (+eleventy, insightful) right there.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33847782)

Every single one of them thinks the same thing. Newsflash: you're one of them.

That's a (+eleventy, insightful) right there.

Not until a burden of proof is satisfied. Until then, you're just agreeing with something because it's what you already believe. Believe whatever you want, that doesn't make it truth without evidence. That doesn't change just because an AC said something you don't like and now you're desperately trying to take him down a peg or two. Really, how petty and unbecoming of you.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (4, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844446)

>> What if you're running from a mugger and want to dial 911?

> Then don't lock out emergency functions - similar to the way that
> (in the US at least) phones without a valid subscription can still call 911.

The editing on /. gets worse each day. What is more interesting of a question would have been "are walks as unique as fingerprints, and can this be used to violate privacy" How is this quantified, and could the police put you on a suspect list because your "walk" is similar to who they think committed some crime? Those are interesting questions. As for 911, as the parent points out, that would be obvious to anyone with any life experience.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (0, Troll)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845352)

If passwords are as unique as walks, this could be used to violate privacy!!

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33846004)

>> What if you're running from a mugger and want to dial 911?

> Then don't lock out emergency functions - similar to the way that
> (in the US at least) phones without a valid subscription can still call 911.

The editing on /. gets worse each day. What is more interesting of a question would have been "are walks as unique as fingerprints, and can this be used to violate privacy" How is this quantified, and could the police put you on a suspect list because your "walk" is similar to who they think committed some crime? Those are interesting questions. As for 911, as the parent points out, that would be obvious to anyone with any life experience.

If they had anything remotely resembling experience or talent, why do you think they'd have such a shitty job?

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844630)

What if you're running from a mugger and want to dial 911?

There's an app for that.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844716)

Or turn around and defend yourself with a .45 caliber bullet.

even a unactivated iphone call dial 911 with no si (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844734)

even a unactivated iphone call dial 911 with no sim card

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (1)

delvsional (745684) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845520)

Do you actually believe that calling 911 would do anything to help you? Why are you running? Turn around and shoot the muggers, that way they won't mug anyone else.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845638)

If you want to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

Re:What if you're running from a mugger and want t (1)

angelofdarkness (1906138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33857726)

From what I've experienced, phones in Europe can call emergency numbers, usually 112 in most of the EU, even without a SIM card. Depending on the country, a SIM-less phone can also call other emergency numbers; in Italy that would be 118 (ambulance), 115 (fire department) and 113 (state police).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_telephone_number#Europe [wikipedia.org]

What about other motions? (4, Interesting)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844368)

I'm worried that this sort of thing would lead to phones that won't allow me to answer when they detect that I might be driving.

Re:What about other motions? (4, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844502)

I'm more worried about the fact that my gait changes based on whether I'm wearing shoes with a lift or not, and how high that lift is. Admittedly not as much of a problem for the male folk in the room, but in my closet there's flats, as well as shoes with heels varying from 1-4", and I very rarely wear the same height of shoe two days in a row.

I don't like the idea of my phone locking me out if it thinks I'm driving. In theory that would be temporary, until you stop moving. But I *really* don't like the idea of my phone locking me out because I'm wearing a different pair of shoes than I did yesterday.

Re:What about other motions? (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844516)

These are two different things: one is a feature that (presumably) you, as the owner, could enable or disable, as you feel is most appropriate. The second is a limitation that the government legislators might impose on your use of your phone, whether you like it or not.

Re:What about other motions? (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 3 years ago | (#33846076)

That was my first thought as well, since my particular SWMBO walks very differently depending on which pair of footwear she's wearing. My second thought is not so gender limited. I have osteo-arthritis and fibromyalgia and I walk incredibly differently depending on whether or not I am having a flareup. In fact, my gait changes slowly but noticably through out the day as I tire. So much so that some of my more observant friends have been able to make pretty close guesses about how long I've been on my feet, simply by how I hold myself and move around

Re:What about other motions? (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 3 years ago | (#33846198)

[...]Admittedly not as much of a problem for the male folk in the room[...]

You must be new here.

Re:What about other motions? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844650)

This would be done by GPS more effectively. If you are on a road, and moving faster then say a brisk bike ride, then it locks the phone.

If you are a passenger, you are just outta luck.

The greens would kill it (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844794)

If you are a passenger, you are just outta luck.

In that case, such legislation would never get out of committee because it would impose an undue burden on people who carpool or ride public transport. All seats in a car or especially a bus (except one) are reasonably safe for making phone calls.

good call (1)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845242)

Re:good call (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33855608)

The article you linked appears to make no reference to passenger, bus, or carpool. How would a phone tell the difference between a driver and a passenger?

Cure for drunk dialing (4, Funny)

valderost (668593) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844370)

Phone locks up when you're stumbling drunk - for some people that's a good thing!

Re:Cure for drunk dialing (1)

cberetz (317673) | more than 3 years ago | (#33848430)

Heh... that way Google could help prevent TWI (Texting While Intoxicated)

Re:Cure for drunk dialing (1)

atisss (1661313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868842)

SMS to ex: "I'm going to drink heavily today, so please don't pick up the phone"

emergencies on the g1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844372)

I don't think we need to worry about security software locking up the phone, my g1 experiences were chock full of being locked out due to bad memory management.

stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844374)

this is as stupid as recognising a user by their typing, or their fingerprint etc.

you lose a finger it changes your typing rhythm. you lose a leg it changes how you walk.

This means you have to have a way to override the protection system, which means an equal or better protection system to do that, so why not just use that anyway...

Re:stupid (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844494)

This means you have to have a way to override the protection system, which means an equal or better protection system to do that, so why not just use that anyway...

Maybe the "better" (more/equally secure) system is less convenient.

To postulate an over-extreme example, have the phone locked to your gait, and if your gait changes because you've lost a leg you have to take it... somewhere, the phone store I guess (note this is a hypothetical, not a suggestion) with proof of ID to have it reset. Although then the weak link would be the reset method.

Point stands though, even if I can't come up with a decent example; some methods of identifying yourself are more secure, but too inconvenient to be used for anything but infrequent exceptional cases.

Lost a leg (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844894)

if your gait changes because you've lost a leg you have to take it... somewhere

But would crutch gaits even be recognized by the system, or would they be rejected for being too far out of bounds? What about a gait like this [youtube.com] ?

Re:Lost a leg (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845388)

That's nothing. What about a gait like this [youtube.com] ?

Re:stupid (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844500)

Better security can wait until you are with customer support or at least at home looking up your master password.

Biometrics are good for a strong yet convenient security measure.

users will see a bug, not a feature (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844880)

There's no way this feature is going to be 100% accurate, and certainly not in 1.0. Every "recognition" technology ever has an error rate, and this will be no different. If it's intended as a security feature, the developers will have to calibrate it to err on the side of denying access, otherwise they'll open themselves up to criticism (and probably legal suits) over its failure to provide the advertised security. This means that there will be false positives, in which the phone denies its legitimate owner access (wearing new shoes, walking on unusual surface, injured, tired, listening to "Beat It"), and that will get the phone chucked across the room in pretty short order.

Re:users will see a bug, not a feature (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845392)

Why does it have to be 100% accurate? Passwords aren't 100% accurate. Pin codes aren't. Why does some new technology (that's meant to be used in *conjunction* with said things) have to be absolutely perfect before you'll consider it?

Re:users will see a bug, not a feature (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845544)

Read past my first sentence for an explanation of why it won't be accepted.

Furthermore, a password or PIN is 100% accurate: type it carefully and it will be accepted. Telling a user to "walk like yourself more carefully" or "type like yourself more carefully" for access to his phone is nonsense, because it isn't something he does consciously.

Re:users will see a bug, not a feature (1)

PatrickBours (1919100) | more than 3 years ago | (#33857396)

The article just explains an extra technique to secure a mobile phone. The way to implement this can be done in various ways. If the gait recognition system locks a mobile phone due to "wrong" walking, then by no means you have to "walk normally" to open it up again. The unlocking mechanism can be a normal PIN code mechanism. So no reason to throw around phones if you would now use a PIN code already.

Fail badly in practice? (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844390)

How's it going to work for ladies who carry phones in handbags etc (many don't use the same bag all the time).

Those ladies actually have a high chance of getting their phones stolen - the thieves steal the bag with the phone inside etc. Many ladies typically don't wear any garments that have pockets. Or worse there are pockets but they are sewn shut so that you don't use them by mistake and make an ugly looking bulge ;).

As for guys, it might work, but I doubt a significant number of us would intentionally buy a phone with this. If us guys wanted an antitheft phone we'd just buy a really cheap phone. Or "customize" it to the point where its fence value drops immensely.

A way to reduce phone theft is by phone makers making their phone IMEIs very hard to change (and ensuring that they are unique), and the cellular providers blocking stolen phones (even globally).

Re:Fail badly in practice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33848106)

AFAIK you can't change a phone's IMEI, and operators already block stolen phones by them. So nothing new here. Most people forget/don't mind to tell their provider that their phone was stolen unless they have a subscription plan.

Re:Fail badly in practice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33943800)

I had a Samsumg J700, and it could be reset in way that wipes the IMEI and Bluetooth MAC and sets them to all zeros, this is suggested in various forums as a way to remove operator lock. In my case I didn't do this intentionally, I think it was caused by a cheap chinese headphone adapter, the first time I took it in for a warranty repair because it no longer worked on my network (O2 UK) and I definitely got the same phone back and it had the original IMEI number, so this implies there is a way to reprogram IMEI numbers on it. Further after it happened again out of warranty, I ended up trying my nephew's Orange SIM card in it after he broke his phone and I discovered they didn't have a problem accepting a phone with an all zero IMEI.

Ministry of Silly Walks (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844394)

The New iPhone: John Cleese Edition!

Always wanted a phone that ... (3, Insightful)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844406)

Great!!! I've always wanted a phone that won't work if I am jogging, riding a horse, skiing, walking on ice, sprain my ankle, having a gout attack, riding a bicycle, fleeing for my life, .... When can I expect to be able to buy this wonder?

Re:Always wanted a phone that ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844530)

All those put together fit in as only a very small percentage of the population. How about this, having a raging hard-on, now, that! would change your gait, and it would apply to half of the population :)

Re:Always wanted a phone that ... (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844568)

This is only basic research. I am sorry to inform you that you will have to wait some time until you could get such a phone, but I'm sure you could find an app for that.

P.S. I know he was joking, don't Whoosh me.

Don't drive drunk (0, Troll)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844828)

I've always wanted a phone that won't work if I am [...] riding a bicycle

Bad example. Riding a bike while talking on the phone is like riding a bike with 0.08% ethyl alcohol in your blood.

Re:Don't drive drunk (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845354)

I've always wanted a phone that won't work if I am [...] riding a bicycle

Bad example. Riding a bike while talking on the phone is like riding a bike with 0.08% ethyl alcohol in your blood.

You mean it will damage my liver?

Re:Always wanted a phone that ... (1)

msclrhd (1211086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845470)

... broken your leg
... wearing high-healed shoes for the first time (or different sized heel)
... wearing rugby shoes or other similar shoes (e.g. with spikes to grip ice when climbing)
... walking on icy/slippery ground
... dancing/skipping while walking
there are many situations in which your gait can change

Re:Always wanted a phone that ... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845692)

Great!!! I've always wanted a phone that won't work if I am jogging, riding a horse, skiing, walking on ice, sprain my ankle, having a gout attack, riding a bicycle, fleeing for my life, .... When can I expect to be able to buy this wonder?

You're a slashdotter, when are you going to do any of that?

Re:Always wanted a phone that ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33943824)

Being a slashdotter makes me immune to gout? I knew there must be some benefit to all the time I spend here.

What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844412)

Next time I strain my ankle, I cannot use my phone for a week.
What about driving in car? Not even other passenger can pick the phone, we must park sideways and walk a few meters to unlock the phone :)

What an excellent idea :))

something important seems to be missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844416)

This sounds like a bit of a fail. I was running recently and fell down. It was serious and I had a limp. So how would I call for an ambulance with one of these phones?

The technology seems in its baby stage at the time (2, Informative)

ConaxConax (1886430) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844418)

They seem to have a pretty poor error rating.

From TFA: "they were only able to achieve a 20 percent Equal Error Rate (EER), which means that one time out of five, the phone registered either a false positive or a false negative when trying to determine the identity of the user. And that's with the phone in a hip holster, oriented in the same way every time."

Also, I recently injured my leg - would I be unable to use my phone with my new limp?

Re:The technology seems in its baby stage at the t (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845450)

Just because it's not bulletproof enough for you to use it to unlock your bank account, for instance, doesn't mean it's pointless. Maybe if a company phone has multiple users, it could update the company phone list with the person who's currently using it?

Re:The technology seems in its baby stage at the t (1)

PatrickBours (1919100) | more than 3 years ago | (#33857408)

As one of the authors I do agree with you that 20% EER is not the best. Since submitting this article we already went down to 10%. On gait with normal accelerometers (so not the low quality ones in the phones) we even get down to 1.5%. Still not as good as fingerprint, but on the other hand, it is unobtrusive. If you hurt your leg permanently, then just make a new reference template. If it is just temporary, then you need to realize that this gait recognition is just an extra security measure, so you no longer need to lock your phone every time you stop using it. You principally do this because you do not want a third person to have access. With gait recognition, the phone uses the gait to recognize this third person by a different gait and will lock it then for you. A sensible implementation would unlock the phone if normal gait is detected from the correct person, but also by using a normal PIN mechanism.

stupid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844422)

this is stupid
no one cares
the data is useless
this article is dumb
I am writing this because I hate the world and stupid shit like this

Re:stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33845112)

It's mutual.

It could save us from a matrix sequel. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844424)

I just see it now. Neo running down the road, grabs the phone off the guy standing at the corner while in full stride, tries to call for help and it locks up on him. He can't ask for instructions to get to the exit and guesses his way around and walks into 3 agents who kill him.

Wait that kinda happened anyway so it wouldn't save us from 2 horrible sequels.

Multiple Sclerosis (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844454)

Without having done any reading, research or anything, I am guessing the same technique could be married to known gait characteristic of early onset Multiple Sclerosis. I do know it is quite specific and is usually undiagnosed till a drastic stage. For example, you push the brake pedal and the car doesnt seem to slow very well. Well before that stage is a gait change. Then "duck walking" where the step seems exaggerated. Was just a thought having learned from seeing a family member go thru the symptoms.

So next time I break my toe... (1)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844466)

...My phone becomes dead weight. Or when I'm dancing. Or doing -anything- besides walking exactly how I normally walk. How about when I walk with my wife? She's 5'2", I'm a foot taller. I normally walk a lot faster by myself, but she has short legs. This is one of those ideas that should have never made it past the "Hey, you know what would be cool?" phase.

Might actually work (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844488)

Interesting. It might be difficult to get the software flexible enough to deal with all possible paces for the same person, but consider this: each person's legs are a specific length. The way a person walks is intimately tied to the length of their legs, as well as the shape of their hips and their overall weight. It is not unreasonable to suspect that sufficiently-accurate accelerometers could distinguish between peoples' movement no matter how fast they were moving (walking, running, whatever).

The main way to fool the device, I think, would be to purposefully chop your steps short. But that is very difficult to do for very long, and of course you couldn't very well imitate somebody else by doing so.

I do not buy that placing the phone in a different bag would have any effect on the estimated gait. Also, things like riding in a car or on a bicycle would look extremely different from walking, so the device obviously shouldn't lock up in those situations. Furthermore, it would be impossible to distinguish between being a passenger and a driver, making the very possibility of locking a phone when it detects you're in a car problematic. Anyway, obviously as an anti-theft device, this will, if it is successful, be marketed as a feature to consumers, meaning that the owner of the phone can choose whether or not to use it. If the phone is routinely locking itself due to this feature, users will simply turn it off.

A wide variety of unusual gaits (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844904)

The way a person walks is intimately tied to the length of their legs

This is true in most but not all cases. Gaits like a bear walk [youtube.com] or a crutch walk [youtube.com] or a tripedal fist walk [youtube.com] might not be close enough to the typical human bipedal gait to get recognized. So in order for the phone to qualify under some countries' accessibility laws, it will have to consider a wide variety of unusual gaits. (Yes, there is a ministry of silly walks, and it's part of physiatry.)

Re:Might actually work (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845518)

The way a person walks is intimately tied to the length of their legs, as well as the shape of their hips and their overall weight.

However my overall weight can change quite significantly over a very short time. It's called backpack.

Wellcome!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844560)

Welcome to our new Orwellian Information security overlords!

Must resist... (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844598)

must resist bee gees joke...

if somebody else walks away with your phone? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844638)

Or you stub your toe, or are sore from a run, bought a new pair of shoes....

What a blast from the past (1)

Engeekneer (1564917) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844722)

Wow, I remember reading about this a long long time ago. There's a reference to an article of 2007 in there, but this must have been around 2000. Sadly I can't seem to find the link to that article (oh, surprise), Well, I guess most things are bound to be invented at least twice with the amout of people with grants out there...

Re:What a blast from the past (1)

PatrickBours (1919100) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984574)

2000 is certainly too early, but 2007 might be a good estimate when people started saying that this would be a nice application for mobile phones. However there is a distinct difference between saying it and actually doing it!

Re:What a blast from the past (1)

Engeekneer (1564917) | more than 3 years ago | (#33984996)

Hmm, you're right that 2000 is probably too early, but 2007 is way too late. The research was done by a research group that published the results, and if I'm not completely wrong they came up with a false negative rate of 85-90%.

I don't quite remember when the first accelerometer phones were out, but I think this was done with either one of the first ones with it, or a prototype phone. I only remember this because I was interested in this technology, but didn't expect to get one for a long time.

Gait vs password? (2, Insightful)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33844772)

Don't completely disable the phone. If the gait analysis comes up "wrong" then require the user to enter his password again.

I can't be the only person who thought this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33844842)

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk
I'm a woman's man: no time to talk

People walk? (1)

Splatus (1417765) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845046)

I wonder if the 10 steps it takes the average American to and from their SUV is enough to differentiate by gait - or waddle....

Who wants it? (1)

idlewire (1901130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845108)

Sherlock Holmes is/was/is a master of many things, including mimicking the gait of another, so this won't impact his activities. Listen does anyone really want this? Some days my back is hurting, some days my legs are hurting, I'm pretty sure I don't walk the same every day. I like to make calls sitting down. I like to borrow my girlfriend's phone to make a call sometimes. I don't really make calls while skipping down the street, but I would like the option to do so. The downsides and frustrations of this technology would seem to overwhelm any benefits. And it won't stop Sherlock! Pschaw!

Re:Who wants it? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33846528)

"Listen does anyone really want this?"

I'd give it a try. It doesn't have to "lock up" permanently, maybe it could just lock and ask for a password if it notices something might not be right? Many people keep their phone locked 24/7 anyway and always require a 4 digit pin so this wouldn't be inconvenient to them at all. I don't keep my phone locked but I do worry about theft, sounds like this system would be the best of both worlds, even if it's wrong 20% of the time I wouldn't mind having to enter a pin 20% of the time. I'd rather have 20% false positives than even 1% false negatives, meaning someone could walk away with it and it not lock up.

If it does lock and require a pin due to possible theft I think it should also display a message "This phone belongs to (INSERT FULL NAME). This phone might be stolen, please ask for identification from anyone attempting to unlock this phone and contact (INSERT FULL NAME) at (ALTERNATE NUMBER, EMAIL, TWITTER, ETC) immediately"

assassinations by phone (1)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845262)

so now we could use a phone to assassinate somebody with out them having to actually answer the call. though, if it's an explosive in the unit itself, a better way to ensure a kill is if the phone is up against their head. but if it a GPS bomb fired from a drone/plain i'm sure close is good enough.

Re:assassinations by phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33845526)

uhm...yeah... that's the first things that comes to mind... good thing there's prozac. Here, take two.

Bad Knees (1)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845504)

I've got bad knees. Some days, the pain is so great to just bend my knee that I limp.

I guess on those days, I don't need to be calling anyone, anyway.

How long would this take to establish your gait? Front pants pocket? left or right? Back pocket? Cargo pocket? Coat pocket? Surely holding it up in your hand wouldn't work, as an arm is going to counteract the bouncing of a step and hold it steady. Maybe held lightly swinging in the hand.

And what if I was carrying a backpack? Or briefcase? Or....really, did these guys think this through all the way?

Already tried w/Keystroke Pattern Recognition (1)

Presence1 (524732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33845866)

There has been research and even products made to do the same thing in recognizing the distinct patterns or each users' typing. I recall first hearing of this in the early 90s, and it probably goes back further than this. Here's two examples:
http://cs.unc.edu/~fabian/papers/fgcs.pdf [unc.edu]
http://www.securitysoftwarezone.com/keystroke-recognition-review273-7.html [securitysoftwarezone.com]

These passive biometrics are all great(TM) solutions -- they take advantage of highly idiosyncratic, repetitive, and difficult to forge characteristics of each individual, and use technology to accurately recognize these characteristics and authenticate their targets.

Except these solutions fail at unacceptable rates when they encounter real-world exceptions. As mentioned by others, gait and keystroke cadence are both consistent, but easily changed by injury, illness, drugs, varying clothing, and just mood.

At least this research group recognizes this and points to the need for a *suite* of passive biometric indicators. But, they think a 1% false positive error rate is acceptable -- one chance in 100 that the thief gets in!?! It needs to be at least 3 orders of magnitude better.

Looks to me like another example of technologists getting enamored of their technology and failing to actually solve the basic problem.

So only one person EVER uses the phone? (1)

stevie.f (1106777) | more than 3 years ago | (#33846016)

My mum doesn't own a phone, I lend her mine when she is going out and I'm staying home. She is a bit of a technophobe and has trouble even unlocking the keypad with two keystrokes, let alone entering a password!

A phone with this enabled would be near impossible to lend to her. I'm not saying it's a bad idea but it'd need to be something that can easily be disabled.

how about ring tones based on your movement? (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#33846390)

How about a different ring tone depending on how your walking/strutting? If you like barely moving, or standing still, it goes quiet for stalking mode. Big ass strut will play whatever the popular tone is for picking up the ladies.

lets see, the "on the bed stand and it's shaking" mode so it will go silent and not interupt your session with a crack ho.

Dialin' alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33846732)

You can tell by the way I use my walk,
That my ID's right and I'm OK to talk.

Call it StrideID, pay the rights money to whoever owns the BeeGees catalogue, and if you want to make a check out to "A. Coward" while you're spreading it around, I'll gladly cash it.

I want a phone, dammit (1)

sea4ever (1628181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33846808)

Geez, I want a phone! These manufacturers should stop adding anti-theft/anti-use/anti-whatever features and focus on making it work better as a phone.
This is just going to make cellphones more and more expensive to add in more bells and whistles which some people never use.
Is it not possible to funnel money used for development of things like this into the cellular system? I would like subsidized calling. How about a free cellphone service?
Something like that is actually making progress. Think about it like this: How does this new feature benefit society?

Never disable 911 (1)

spasm (79260) | more than 3 years ago | (#33847868)

You don't want to disable 911 or its international equivalents period. If the guy who mugged me is calling 911 on my stolen phone, chances are someone someone's life is at risk. I certainly wouldn't want to find out that some child hit by a car died because I'd installed some stupid app and the mugger saw it and was *trying* to do the right thing and call 911..

Profile Identified... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33848302)

... you are either a deer that has been shot in the leg, or a rap artist. Please pull up pants to unlock phone.

OFFS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33848452)

senario
I need to use my phone, which pants was I wearing? which pocket was it in? which shoes? was I drunk or sober? Oh that's right, I banged my knee on a door so I'm limping, so then I stop limping, wear my blue jeans, with my old joggers, and put the phone in my left front pocket, and walk around the block for half an hour, then my phone will unlock, offs!

geolocation (1)

Ofloo (1378781) | more than 3 years ago | (#33850764)

not only that you could bind your creditcard to your geolocation so basicly have update your smartphone your location like in google latitude and if you have creditcard use that it monitors the possible location, .. to prevent creditcard abuse.
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