Google I/O 2015 ATAP Project Abacus


The folks at ATAP, who are usually busy with things like Project Ara or making our clothes smarter, want to kill the password. It's a lofty goal, one we've heard from many folks in the past, but the demonstration at Google I/O today is one of the first that seems like it might actually work. The effort is currently being called Project Abacus, and it's the result of a massive collaboration with 33 Universities, tested with 40tb of data across 28 states.

How does it work? Well, in a sense, it works by constantly paying attention to who you are and how you behave.

Project Abacus is a multi-modal system, designed to combine all of the individual security methods that only sort of work to create something that works an order of magnitude better than things like face unlock or voice detection. The end result is a constant system that generates a trust score based on your usage, including how you type words and what apps you load on top of things like voice and face detection. In the demonstration on stage, Project Abacus was able to clearly tell the difference between two users, which means the security measure could eventually do things like lock down all of the apps in real time when someone who isn't you picks up the phone.

This promises to be more useful than a fingerprint and something that can be deployed on most smartphones, though it's likely the battery would take a hit if something like this is always running in the background. We don't know when we'll see a version of Project Abacus that can be tested outside of Google, but this demonstration is by far the most promising example of eliminating the password we've seen so far.