Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

The Pentagon wants smartphones to track how you strut

February 27, 2019

The Pentagon is testing technology that will let a smartphone identify you by the way you walk, as well as how you hold the device and swipe across the screen.

Gait serious: The idea is to use traits such as a person’s walking motion, or gait, as  biometric signals, adding an additional layer of security. We already have passcodes and face recognition, of course, but this technology would let a device know as soon as someone else walked off with it. Gait detection has long been known to be a good biometric, but now the technology is around to make it practical.

Mobile mayhem: Mobile gadgets are a weak link in cybersecurity that hackers can exploit to breach bigger, more valuable systems. The issue is especially serious for big corporations, but is also relevant to national security.

Beyond spooks: The Pentagon says it is working with smartphone manufacturers to make the technology widely available. It relies on the sensors already found inside smartphones, using software to score a probability—based on movement—that the device is being carried by the right person.

Privacy problems: Biometrics can also raise privacy issues, since they offer a new way to keep tabs on you. Face recognition has emerged as both a useful security tool and a powerful way for companies and governments to track people. In China, people’s gaits already offer a new way for Big Brother to watch over them.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary

Synthesia's new technology is impressive but raises big questions about a world where we increasingly can’t tell what’s real.

Taking AI to the next level in manufacturing

Reducing data, talent, and organizational barriers to achieve scale.

Is robotics about to have its own ChatGPT moment?

Researchers are using generative AI and other techniques to teach robots new skills—including tasks they could perform in homes.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.