Intelligent Keyboard that’s self-powered can identify users

February 2, 2015

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have been working on an innovative keyboard which is able to identify the user typing on it through their typing patterns. Along with that, the device is water and dirt resistant and it can power itself by taking the static electricity from the fingertips of the user.


[Image Source: Georgia Institute of Technology]

We have always used passwords for protecting our data, however, data can be stolen easily and the effects can be devastating. Biometric sensors are being used, such as fingerprint scanners, in phones and tablets, but the researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have gone down a different road with their tech. They have designed a keyboard that is able to identify the user reliably based on such things as pressure that has been applied to the keys and the amount of time between different key strokes.


[Image Source: Georgia Institute of Technology]

Many of the keyboards on the market make use of mechanical switches located under the keys and they can only discriminate between being pressed or not. Prof. Zhong Lin Wang designed their keyboard in a very different way. It doesn’t make use of switches and instead the keyboard relies on four layers of transparent film that are stacked on top of each other. Two of these layers are indium tin oxide and they are electrodes which are separated by one layer of PET plastic. A layer of FEP plastic sits on top of the electrodes and it is this that is able to harvest the static electricity from skin when the typist’s fingers touches the keys and then leaves them. This produces electricity through the triboelectric effect.


[Image Source: Georgia Institute of Technology]

The keyboard is able to register complex signals when each of the keys is pressed and then process and analyse them. The signals create a pattern which is a distinctive signature for users. When testing the intelligent keyboard the researchers got 104 subjects to type in the word “touch” four times. Just from this data the keyboard could tell who the typist was and the accuracy was pretty good. Data could be a great deal more secure if this technology was used as an extra layer of security alongside passwords.


[Image Source: Georgia Institute of Technology]

Another feature of the keyboard is that it doesn’t have any parts that move and the materials used in the design mean that it is easy to keep clean. The designers of the keyboard say that you could pour a cup of coffee on the keyboard and it wouldn’t damage it as it is based on plastic sheeting. The materials are commonly used in industry and this would mean that the keyboard would be durable and competitive when it comes to costs.