Google and University of Guelph team up to abolish Android smartphone passwords

Soon, the way you walk, talk, and hold your phone will be key to unlocking your Android device, thanks to a University of Guelph team led by engineering professor Graham Taylor.
University of Guelph engineering professor Graham Taylor, and grad student Griffin Lacey were part of Google's Advanced Technology and Projects Team, which has developed a way to have your phone's on-board sensors unlock the device, no passcode required. (Contributed by University of Guelph)

A University of Guelph team has developed a way to help Google get rid of smartphone passcodes.

Their work means that soon, the way you walk, talk and hold your phone will be key to unlocking the device. 

Engineering professor Graham Taylor, grad student Griffin Lacey and visiting Ph.D. student Natalia Neverova teamed up with Google's advanced technology and projects (ATAP) team for three months between January and April 2015 at Google's headquarters in California. They recently released the results of their research.

Together they developed what Taylor calls "continuous authentication," a system that taps into the various sensors on your phone to determine who is using it. 

"Those passcodes, they take time, they're annoying and they're not super-secure either," Taylor told CBC News. 

"We all walk, or move our phones in different ways. And so essentially the phone has an idea of whose holding it and if it's not you, it can lock itself automatically. And if it is you, it will unlock."

Taylor said the system taps into the onboard technology, including fingerprint scanners, cameras, accelerometers etc., to authenticate a user based on those sensors. 

Taylor said the feature will be installed on Android phones in the near-future – but couldn't give an exact date, saying those details are being kept secret.