If you’re a parent in this day and age, it is inevitable your children will use your smartphone. Whether it’s to play a quick game, watch YouTube, or chat with grandparents, kids know smartphones. A new algorithm could help parents protect their smartphones from their own children. Yes, an algorithm that will child-proof your smartphone. Researchers at the University of South Carolina and China’s Zhejiang University have created an algorithm that could detect if a child is using your phone inappropriately.
Xiaopeng Li is a graduate student at the University of South Carolina and coauthored a paper on the research. The research shows there are major differences in the way adults swipe and handle a smartphone and the way children handle it. It’s with these differences the researchers were able to build the algorithm.
Since kids have smaller hands and shorter fingertips than adults, they often touch a smaller area on the screen and make shorter swipes. Children also tend to swipe their fingers more sluggishly across the screen, and they are slower to switch from swiping to tapping.
To get hard data on these differences, the researchers built a simple app and asked a group of kids between the ages of three and 11 — and a group of adults between 22 and 60 — to use it. The app had participants unlock an Android phone and then play a numbers-based game on it, so that the researchers could record a variety of taps and swipes. They also tracked things like the amount of pressure applied by a user’s finger and the area it encompassed.
The researchers used the resulting data to train an age-detecting algorithm that they say is 84 percent accurate with just one swipe on the screen — a figure that goes up to 97 percent after eight swipes.
While there are apps available that parents can use to prevent kids from using certain apps or visiting certain websites. This algorithm would help take the work out of having to maintain an app. It will be interesting to see how this research continues.
Last Updated on February 11, 2018.