In a digital world, signing our signatures on checks and receipts has started to feel like an outdated tradition—a reflexive action without a real purpose. (Does anyone even look at them?) But now, researchers at Rutgers University believe our sloppy signatures may have an important use in the digital era: as a replacement for text or biometric passwords. 

According to a recent study, which will be published in May at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, drawings and doodles may be more secure—and easier to remember—than traditional text passwords. These “doodles” or “gesture passwords” can include anything from signatures to free-form shapes or illustrations, and could be used for smartphone logins or to access a range of digital apps. 

The study found that volunteers who used gesture passwords spent 22 percent less time logging in to apps and 42 percent less time creating passwords. Researchers believe gesture passwords may be a viable replacement for traditional text passwords—not only are they more convenient, but they're more secure. “Preventing people from hacking into your smartphone is a major issue, and it becomes even more important because people carry their smartphones everywhere,” researcher Janne Lindqvist says. “Getting access to somebody’s phone can give a lot of information about that person and make them vulnerable to lots of different kinds of attacks than can have financial and other repercussions.” 

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