A new system for use in a smartwatch has been developed which can verify a person’s signature and detect even the most skilled forgeries. The software, which can also check handwriting, has been developed by researchers from both the Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv University.
Wow! So lets see, how would this work? Someone wishes to check the validity of a signature. If he has a copy of the person in question’s handwriting then this person will be able to use as smartwatch to review the signature or handwriting sample. By extension, this would also apply to smartphones and apps.
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The researchers explain that while most online signature verification technologies rely on dedicated digital devices — such as tablets or smart pens — to capture, analyze and verify signatures, this new method utilizes motion sensors found in readily available hand-worn devices, also known as smartwatches. Recent market research shows that one out of six people already wear a smartwatch and the market is expected to reach 373 million devices by 2020.
Signature verification technology addresses both random and skilled forgeries. A random forger does not have any information about the other person and uses his or her own signature style. Skilled forgers often practice copying a person’s name as accurately as possible, which makes their forgeries harder to detect.
The research team developed software that uses motion data gathered from the movements of a person’s wrist to identify the writer during the signing process. This information, compiled from accelerometer and gyroscope sensors, senses changes in rotational motion and orientation, and trains a machine learning algorithm to distinguish between genuine or forged signatures.
So the person signing a document can be asked to wear a smartwatch with thew software while he does so and the smartwatch will check his handwriting.
“We based our hypothesis on the assumption that people adopt a specific signing pattern that is unique and very difficult for others to imitate, and that this uniqueness can be captured adequately using the motion sensors of a hand-worn device,” says Ben Nassi, who is a graduate student in the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering.
The research team also included: Prof. Yuval Elovici, director of BGU’s Cyber Security Research Center, Dr. Erez Shmueli of TAU’s Department of Industrial Engineering, and Alona Levy, a graduate student in the same department.
In the research study, 66 TAU students used a digital pen to record 15 samples of their genuine signature on a tablet while wearing a smartwatch on their writing hand. Then, each student studied trace recordings of other people’s genuine signatures and was asked to forge five of them.
“Using a wrist-worn device or fitness tracker provides more comprehensive data than other wearable devices, since it measures the gestures of a user’s arm, hand and all fingers rather than just a single finger or the forearm,” Nassi says.
So smart phones and smart watches can actually have more practical applications, rather than just be toys for grownups.
The researchers have filed for a patent for the initial system, which enables a generic smartwatch to become a signature verifier.
They plan to expand their research beyond just smartwatches to include larger-scale experimentation and will investigate the benefits of collecting data from both a smartwatch device and a writing digitizer, such as a tablet, to see if combining information from both sources improves accuracy. They will also study the impact of data extracted from additional sensors, such as the ones used in lie detector machines to measure heart-rate variability.