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Georgia Tech professor Zhong Lin Wang and graduate research assistant Jun Chen display a self-powered keyboard that could provide stronger security for computer users.

Computer security could become a matter of style and force if researchers have their way.Professor Zhong Lin Wang and a Georgia Institute of Technology team, along with colleagues from the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems, Chongqing University and the University of California, Riverside, have analyzed parameters such as the force applied to press keys and the time interval between them. Such typing style is unique to individuals and could provide a new biometric for securing computers from unauthorized use.

Their self-powered keyboard generates electricity when fingertips contact the multilayer plastic materials that make up the device. In addition to providing enough electrical current to register the key presses, the keyboard could generate enough electricity to charge a small electronic device or power a transmitter to make the keyboard wireless.

The new keyboard should be price competitive, as it is based on inexpensive materials. Since the keyboard is based on a sheet of plastic, pouring liquids over it will not damage the device, Wang said.

?This has the potential to be a new means for identifying users,? he said. ?With this system, a compromised password would not allow a cyber-criminal onto the computer. The way each person types even a few words is individual and unique.? The research was reported online in the journal ACS Nano.