You’ve been in this situation countless times, where you need to show someone something on your computer, but the system is locked and you have to enter your password. You’re faced with a dilemma – either enter your login now and risk your friend knowing your login details, or ask him to look away and be forever marked as paranoid.
Problem solved, or so it would seem, as Japanese researchers from the government backed Japan Science and Technology (JST) Agency developed a rather novel approach to protecting your password from over-the-shoulder onlookers. The system is designed to camouflage the user’s cursor by having the user log on using graphical keypad, and a bunch of dummy cursors that are very much identical to the user-controlled cursor begin flying all over the screen during the login process.
The developers have made it so that the dummy cursors move randomly across the screen to make it even more difficult to spot the real one. Keita Watanabe of the JST’s Igarashi Design Interface Project said that at first it would seem confusing for the user himself to distinguish which cursor is real. But eventually, when you start using it, it is “surprisingly easy” to figure out which is which. But don’t worry, the observers will be the one confused as to which one you’re really using.
The project is part of the JST’s long-running Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) research program where the next step is “find out more about how people recognize their cursor”. That will be done by analyzing the human processes through eye-tracker and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tests, Watanabe concluded.[ via geek.com ]