Forget passwords, remember faces

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iol scitech april 16 heartbleed REUTERS The Facelock system capitalises on the human brains excellent ability to recognise faces, which its creators say makes it almost impossible to forget.

London - If you’re terrible with numbers but never forget a face, your life could be about to get quite a bit easier.

Because scientists are planning to replace fiddly passwords and PINs with an access code based on pictures.

The Facelock system capitalises on the human brain’s excellent ability to recognise faces, which its creators say makes it almost impossible to forget.

If we know someone well we will quickly recognise them in a photo even if it is blurred or hazy.

But when we are shown two pictures of a stranger, we often assume the images show two different people.

Scientists from Glasgow and York universities asked volunteers to name Z-list celebrities who they knew well, but most people would not. The team then made up panels of nine pictures, each showing one celebrity face and eight strangers.

Volunteers were shown four of the panels and asked to spot the faces they knew. They got all four right almost 100 percent of the time. Even a year later, they still did extremely well, journal PeerJ reports.

The researchers said this is because, unlike with passwords, they did not have to memorise anything.

Tests also showed it was very hard for strangers to crack the code. Spouses sometimes spotted all four faces, but the risk could be cut by using more obscure celebrities or more pictures.

Lead author Dr Rob Jenkins said: “Pretending to know a face you don’t know is like pretending to know a language you don’t know – it just doesn’t work.

“The only system that can reliably recognise faces is a human who is familiar with the faces concerned.”

It is hoped software firms will use the research to create photo access codes for computers and mobile phones. - Daily Mail

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