Research initially aimed at helping partially sighted customers use chip and PIN keypads has led to the creation of a device which can protect customers from “shoulder surfing”.
This is the term used for the practice whereby a “criminally motivated” bystander casually observes the PIN when paying for goods or services or getting money from an ATM.
Neil Radford an Enterprise Fellow at the University of Warwick has worked with colleagues in the University of Warwick’s manufacturing Group to create a special “cradle” for chip & pin keypads, which innovatively incorporates a magnifying lens.
The use of the lens (patent pending) is of significant benefit to visually impaired people, as it enlarges the pin pad display whilst also improving security. The enhanced view, to any user standing directly in front of the key pad, alone is of great benefit by reducing the degree of difficulty and the associated anxiety many face in simply reading the display – from partially sighted people through to the many people who need simply to switch to reading glasses for some tasks – whilst vendors see improved transaction times.
Importantly the device, also provides tremendous additional benefit to customers, vendors and banks in that it has been proven to be a highly effective defence against shoulder surfing, by distorting the view available from any other angle by a casual observer or even CCTV and hidden cameras, thus frustrating shoulder surfers and more sophisticated fraudsters.
Neil Radford has now established a company, Secure Access Solutions Limited, to market the “PED Cradle”.
Boots is piloting 35 cradles in its Cambridge, UK store. Secure Access Solutions is also in discussions with the Royal National Institute of the Blind who are giving their expert assessment. Additional trials will be held with RNIB in July.
Secure Access Solutions has identified how the same issues affect transactions at ATM Cash points and are already well advanced with a range of complementary products for ATM’s, which are scheduled for further trials later this year with a UK Bank.
A lens seems like a good idea, but I hope it does a better job of obscuring the keypad then it appears to from the photograph.