(CBS NEWS) -- The average computer user has 27 passwords, and it can be tough to keep track of them all. But a solution may be at hand in our devices, with sensors that can read all kinds of identifying information about us. That could make biometric data the key to our online world, putting an end to the password.
Professor Vishal Patel asked a student to walk across campus at Rutgers University, then hand his phone to another student, who walked back. The difference in how they walk was "enough to identify who the person is walking," Patel said.
To the phone's accelerometer -- every smartphone has one -- the walking signals looked different, reports CBS News' Brook Silva-Braga.
Just two years ago, in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation," this was science fiction. But researchers like Patel are making biometrics real and trying to use them to make our devices more secure with a process called "active authentication" that constantly and passively monitors the user.
The phone was also trained to recognize the unique way its owner scrolls down the screen. The time between specific keystrokes also gives you away, as well as the words you choose and the way you punctuate them. Move a mouse and the path of the pointer can identify you, and so can the way you click.
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