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Gait recognition could be a viable technique for protecting individuals and their data. Smartphone device users repeatedly need to authenticate both their smartphones and the numerous apps they contain. Gait authentication has emerged as a non-intrusive way of capturing a necessary level of personal information, but — until now — all tests of it have taken place in a controlled environment.

Now, real-world tests have shown that gait authentication could be a viable means of protecting smartphones and other mobile devices from cybercrime, according to new research.

A study led by the University of Plymouth asked smartphone users to go about their daily activities while motion sensors within their mobile devices captured data about their stride patterns.

The results showed the system was on average around 85 percent accurate in recognizing an individual’s gait, with that figure rising to almost 90 percent when they were walking normally and fast walking.

For the research, 44 participants aged between 18 and 56 were each asked to carry a globally available smartphone device for seven to 10 days. They were asked to place the smartphone in a belt pouch to record the sensor data captured by the device’s gyroscope and accelerometer during the course of different physical activities.

Each participant generated an average of 4,000 sample activities during the course of the test, with these split into records showing normal and fast walking in addition to climbing and descending stairs.

This showed a potential error rate of 11.38% and 11.32% for normal and fast walking respectively, with the figures rising when participants were going down and upstairs respectively.

The researchers say this emphasizes the need to further advance the ability to automatically differentiate a wider set of walking activities so that a multi-algorithmic approach to identification can target specific walking characteristics.

“Gait recognition alone will not be the answer to usable and convenient authentication, however, it could form a critically important tool within the cyber arsenal that could contribute towards creating a stronger awareness of a user’s identity”, said Nathan Clarke, Professor of Cyber Security and Digital Forensics at the University of Plymouth. He was cited by