A Smart Touchscreen That Can Distinguish Between Users

All this talk of the passcode problems with iPhones and similar with Samsungs might be all for naught. What if you didn’t have to go through such measures because your phone had a touchscreen that knew that difference between you and any other person touching it? A smart touchscreen is being developed that can discriminate between users.

Disney Research has built a device called the Touché that has a touchscreen that sends harmless currents through a user’s body. It measures a unique signature of the physiological differences produced by the “differences in the body’s impedance of that current.”

The current flows from the sensor board of the device through the electronics that use indium tin oxide into the user’s body. The sensor board then measures the unique impedance at multiple frequencies. Once it’s calibrated to a user, it can recognize them in five-hundred milliseconds.


The plans for this technology and the device are still in development and top secret, but do include commercialization. The though is that this technology could be applied to other objects other than touchscreens, such as a doorknob as you enter your home or the door handle of your vehicle. Think if your home and car knew who you were. No one would be allowed into either who wasn’t an invited guest. What if you could place something similar on your credit card?

Since it’s such a new technology, it’s hard to know what the disadvantages would be, yet there aren’t many that come to mind. I’m dealing with dry, peeling hands at the moment and have to wonder how that would affect much usage of a smart touchscreen. Would the screen not recognize me? Would I be locked out of my devices?


There is a face recognition technology currently that some devices use. People found a way to circumvent it and began using photos to gain access to the device. Yet there’s a way to block that by forcing the device to use a video instead of just a picture. This smart touchscreen seems as if it would improve on that and be hard to bypass.

No matter how you look at it, it seems like a smart touchscreen would be a safer and more effective method than using a four-digit passcode. While it might keep out your 4-year-old, if someone wants to break into your device badly enough, they would be able to find a way. The smart touchscreen seems a wiser choice.

What method do you currently use to prevent others from using your device? Would you welcome a smart touchscreen? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Source: popsci.com, Books And Tablet Pc by BigStockPhoto

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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