The UIST 2009 Student Innovation Competition, a Microsoft-sponsored contest aimed at inspiring new keyboard technologies, has just ended, and one of the winning entries is a keyboard that biometrically authenticates a computer user after just eight characters typed, CNET reports. About a month ago, Microsoft sent out prototypes of pressure-sensitive keyboards to 40 international teams of students, who had four weeks to cobble together their creations. First place in the "most useful" category was a design called Safelock, by Jeff Allen and John Howard of Southern Methodist University, which denies a password entry if it’s not typed the way its user typically types. To create a machine-learning algorithm that discovers the unique way each person types, the team measured four keystroke attributes: flight time (the interval between each keystroke); hold time (the amount of time the key was held); maximum pressure; and a curve fit to the pressure over time as a user pressed each key. The team conducted extensive tests of their system and say it’s "extremely robust." Says Howard: "99.4 percent of the time, if you’re not me, you’re not able to log into my account." Other winners include Heelblazers, a method for typing with feet, and UTea Time, an inputting technology for people with disabled fingers…

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