Here’s something interesting in light of the whole “handwriting is dead” argument. The US government may be using a person’s handwriting as a way to secure equipment and sensitive areas.
Biometric identification is a technology that relies on unique characteristics of the human body to establish identification. For example, we’ve all seen the movies where some military person looks into an eye scanner to unlock a door into a secure room. The system analyzes the eye, matches it to previous records and unlocks the door.
Image by PBS.org
“Dynamic signature” is a biometric system that works the same way, only instead of analyzing an eye, it checks the person’s signature. And not just the shape of the letters. The system measures everything from the pressure applied by the person writing to the speed with which letters are formed.
According to Nextgov.com, Lockheed Martin has developed handwriting identification software for the NSA to use on smartphones.
From the site’s explanation of how this sort of technology works:
“Nobody else has the same strokes,” said John Mears, senior fellow for Lockheed IT and Security Solutions. “People can forge your handwriting in two dimensions, but they couldn’t forge it in three or four dimensions. Three is the pressure you put in, in addition to the two dimensions on the paper. The fourth dimension is time. The most advanced handwriting-type authentication tracks you in four dimensions.”
Nothing I read makes clear why this sort of thing would be developed when we already have all sorts of other methods of biometric identification. But lack of necessity may be one reason handwriting identification hasn’t caught on.
Another could be problems such as those reported by a team of researchers from Lehigh and Johns Hopkins universities. They found it was still possible to electronically forge handwriting that could possibly fool some systems.
Of course, now that so many US schools are dropping handwriting altogether, you have to wonder how effective this technology will be for people who have no idea how to sign their names.