Your Smartphone Will Soon Be Childproof Thanks To New Algorithm

Hands holding smartphone.

A newly developed algorithm may prevent toddlers from accessing one’s smartphone.

Whether you’re a parent, kindergarten teacher, or are just in a situation where there are lots of toddlers around, you know that it’s hard to keep your phone out of their reach.  Researchers believe they have figured out how to prevent children from accessing your smartphone. The method involves a newly developed age-detecting algorithm that can automatically detect when a kid is swiping the screen and also block apps that you don’t want them to access.

Researchers from the University of South Carolina and Zhejiang University in China developed an age-detecting algorithm that is 84 percent accurate after swiping the smartphone’s screen once. That number reportedly goes up to 97 percent after eight swipes.

While we all know that kids have smaller hands than adults, they also have shorter fingertips, meaning that they often touch a smaller portion of the screen and make shorter swipes.

According to the study, children also tend to swipe their fingers forcefully across the screen, in addition to their slower switch from swiping to tapping.

To come up with this algorithm, researchers had to identify the differences between how adults and children swipe phone screens.  Thus, they examined the swiping pattern of a group of children between the ages of three and 11 and a group of adults between 22 and 60. Both groups had to play a numbers-based game on a newly developed Android app. The researchers also took into account the variety of taps and swipes as well as the amount of pressure applied by a user’s finger and the area it touched.

The data collected was then fed into the age-detecting algorithm. Researchers said that they haven’t built the algorithm into a smartphone, however, it’s safe to say that smartphones will soon share a variant of the algorithm in the future.

The finding was presented at the 19th Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications in Arizona.

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