We all have cell phones that will lock out unauthorized users. But few of us use this feature because it is a pain in the neck. Who wants to type in a code when you want to make a call?

Thanks to some new software from KDDI R&D Laboratories, you can authenticate with an arm swinging gesture when using your cell phone. The technology activates the acceleration sensor used in some phones to gather biometric data about how the user swings the phone.

You wouldn't think that the way you swing your phone is that distinctive. However, a variety of individual characteristics, including physical factors like the length of your arm and your muscle structure, as well as action patterns such as holding methods and other habits, are reflected in the acceleration signals recorded during arm swinging motion.

This results in a reading of an arm swing pattern that is extremely resistant to spoofing; the authentication is more than 96% accurate. The phone performs a live biometric data capture each time you swing your arm after opening the phone, and then compares it to a stored template.

I really like hand-waving gesture interfaces. And this KDDI system will (according to the company) progress until it becomes possible to open applications and perform other actions on the phone with a recognized and recorded gesture.

Douglas Adams wrote about a gesture-controlled system in his 1979 blockbuster novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Even better, he also illustrated some potential problems with such a system.

"The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.

Zaphod waved a hand and the channel switched again."

It's time to get working on your gestures, and what they will mean to your cell phone. You might also consider making sure that you stand clear of people authenticating themselves to their cell phones.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of Technovelgy.com)