ECE Department Seminar: Distinguishing Users with Capacitive Touch Communication
October 3, 2012
Ph.D candidate, Department of Computer Science, Rutgers University
Time: 3:00 PM -- 4:00 PM, Oct. 3th (Wednesday), 2012
Location: Babbio Center, Room 319
As we are surrounded by an ever-larger variety of post-PC devices, the traditional methods for identifying and authenticating users have become cumbersome and time-consuming. In this paper, we present a capacitive communication method through which a device can recognize who is interacting with it. This method exploits the capacitive touchscreens, which are now used in laptops, phones, and tablets, as a signal receiver. The signal that identifies the user can be generated by a small transmitter embedded into a ring, watch, or other artifact carried on the human body. We explore two example system designs with a low-power continuous transmitter that communicates through the skin and a signet ring that needs to be touched to the screen. Experiments with our prototype transmitter and tablet receiver show that capacitive communication through a touchscreen is possible, even without hardware or firmware modifications on a receiver. This latter approach imposes severe limits on the data rate, but the rate is sufficient for differentiating users in multiplayer tablet games or parental control applications. Controlled experiments with a signal generator also indicate that future designs may be able to achieve datarates that are useful for providing less obtrusive authentication with similar assurance as PIN codes or swipe patterns commonly used on smartphones today.
Tam Vu is entering the 5th year of his Ph.D. program in the Department of Computer Science, Rutgers University. He is a research assistant in Wireless Information Network Lab (WINLAB). His research interests include location privacy, mobile system security, wireless device localization and mobile-centric internet architecture. He is the recipient of the best paper awards at Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom) for 2 consecutive years - 2011 and 2012. Many of his research received wide press coverage including MIT Technology Review, NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNET News, and Yahoo News.