CSIRO uses kinetic harvesting on wearables to open gait security

Collecting energy from a person's movement has the potential to use walking as an authentication option, the CSIRO has said.

(Image: CSIRO)

Researchers from the CSIRO have said they have opened the door to using a person's walking patterns as a form of authentication, thanks to the ability to harvest energy from movement on wearable devices.

In the solution [PDF] put forward by the CSIRO, rather than using a battery-draining accelerometer to measure a person's movement, the output voltage from a kinetic energy harvester (KEH) is used to recognise an individual.

The CSIRO said using the KEH saves 78 percent of the energy used by an accelerometer, and due to each person's "unique energy generation pattern" is able to be used as an authentication option.

"By applying both techniques, we have developed a way to achieve two goals at once: Powering devices and the ability to verify a person's identity using a wearable device by capturing the energy generated from the way they walk," Data61 researcher Sara Khalifa said.

On a trial of 20 users where the CSIRO claimed it had 95 percent authentication accuracy, it also found 13 percent of gait spoofing attacks were successful.

"It is convenient because as we walk around each day our gait can be sampled continuously and verified without us having to manually adjust anything," group leader of the Networks Research Group at Data61 professor Dali Kafaar said.

"It's more secure than passwords, because the way we walk is difficult to mimic. Since the KEH-gait keeps authenticating the user continuously, it collects a significant amount of information about our movements, making it difficult to imitate or hack unlike guessing passwords or pin codes."

The researchers acknowledged that shoes, clothes, and walking speed have an impact on recognition, and said the area would be examined in future research.

Last year, researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) found it was possible to replace battery-operated sensors with energy harvested from solar or radio frequency sources such as communication towers and other telecommunications technology.

"If we can develop battery-less sensors and instead have sensors powered by energy harvesting from the ambient environment, then we will solve a major problem," Dr Salman Durrani, lead researcher from the ANU Research School of Engineering, said.