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uweyetrackerStaring into a screen and moving your eyes around a couple times seems a lot easier and more secure than remembering a bajillion different passwords for all your devices and accounts.

But eye-tracking and face-recognition technology — also known as biometric password systems — hasn’t yet caught on with most of us, and new research out of the University of Washington wants to figure out why.

UW engineers Michael Brooks and Cecilia R. Aragon, along with Texas State University’s Oleg Komogortsev, just published one of the first studies to analyze how people respond to biometric identification.

The researchers built a prototype mimicking an ATM screen with a camera and had subjects perform three authentication processes: a four-number PIN, a target-based game that tracks a person’s eyes (shown to the right), and a reading exercise that follows how a user’s eyes move past each word.

They found that a successful eye-tracking user experience was dependent on aspects like speed, accuracy and type of error messages. Many subjects lost trust in the biometric technologies if authentication failed, proving to the researchers that clear directions are necessary if eye-tracking technology makes it to the mainstream.

You can check out the study here. The research team presented the report at the International Conference on Biometrics last month.

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