Thanks to the researchers from University of South Carolina (USC) in the US and Zhejiang University in China, from now onwards, parents won’t have to worry anymore about their smartphones being used by kids. A new study has revealed that parents may soon be able to detect if their toddler is swiping the screen and automatically block apps that are off-limits for kids. A number of existing smartphone apps aim to control kids’ activity on phones, but could be disabled by tech-savvy children.
USC researchers along with their counterparts from a Chinese university discovered that automated age-range detection would prevent kids from stumbling upon an inappropriate website or get into a work e-mail account. The researchers observed two big differences between how children and adults swipe phone screens.
Xiaopeng Li, a research student at the University of South Carolina pointed out that since kids have smaller hands and shorter fingertips than adults, they mostly touch a far lesser area on the smartphone screen and make shorter swipes. Further, kids tend to swipe their fingers more sluggishly across the screen as compared to adults, as they are slower to switch from swiping to tapping.
To gather data on these differences, the research team developed a simple app, the ‘MIT Technology Review’ reported. They requested 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 resulting data was used to train an age-detecting algorithm that they say is 84 per cent accurate with just one swipe on the screen – a figure that goes up to 97 per cent after eight swipes.