Earlier this week, we headed over to Google Campus (www.campuslondon.com) to put together a case study on one of our early user experience testing candidates who have thoroughly benefitted from the journey.
PixelPin replace passwords with pictures. All you need to do to login in is tap 4 Passpoints on 1 picture. The cross-platform startup has been going for 18 months and gained a significant following from those who believe in the power of pictures, as well as having spent time in both Wayra accelerator and Tech Hub (based at Google Campus).
Unlike the military grade encryption algorithms used to protect the images and location of Passpoints, the concept is simple. Once a user has uploaded an image, they simply specify 4 positions, in a particular order, on the image which will make up the Passpoints.
For example, a user could place 4 Passpoints on 4 faces within a group photo or place 4 Passpoints on a map marking visited countries.
Then, for any site or application with PixelPin integrated, the users image will simply be displayed, to gain access the user simply taps the four Passpoints in the same order as when the passpoints were set.
During the case study, I was able to ask Sarah Bradley, a member of the PixelPin team, the following questions.
How much better is this than ordinary passwords?
We make use of the picture superiority effect, which describes the phenomena such that pictures are more likely to be remembered than words, especially an alphanumeric string with capitals, punctuation and all the rest.
Whilst pictures are also more memorable, they are also less vulnerable. Unlike alphanumeric passwords, pictures and Passpoints are not vulnerable to dictionary attacks or typical phishing scams with false emails asking users to reset passwords.
It’s also a user-friendly experience which is fun.
Do concepts such as Google Ring or other digital jewellery holding important information such as passwords rival PixelPin?
Part of this comes down to the user’s choice as there may always be people who prefer holding precious information within a physical object.
However, products such as this may prove to be non-viable, people are already losing physical products important to them.
We definitely have a preference for images!
How could the advance of biometric password systems such as fingerprint scanners or iris readers impact PixelPin and the industry as a whole?
When using information that is as personal as a unique fingerprint or iris, there is a massive risk with that information, or your identity, being stolen.
Whilst on a system like Pixel Pin you can change your picture and Passpoints, it’s highly unlikely you will be changing your fingerprints, so if information is compromised what happens next?
The success of biometric scanners will definitely come down to how willing people will be to adopt the technology.
What did UCL DECIDE do to help?
Our journey started out at a similar time to UCL DECIDE. There’s definitely been a working relationship where we were both able to learn from each other.
One experience we had doing ‘UX Testing in the wild’ involved visiting the UCL Engineering Cafe and approaching students in an environment that proved to be a lot better than randomly approaching people in the street. This allowed us to test the entire concept as well as particular elements.
We had a website setup with a PixelPin login and students were able to upload their own picture and try it out, this allowed us to measure metrics such as the number of sign-ups and the speed of input.
UCL DECIDE provided valuable feedback at an important time which led to some changes in the early stage development of our product.
Following the testing, we also received a summary video of the testing including focus points, annotations and recommended actions to take.
What was the key point that the services provided by UCL DECIDE flagged?
The product started out as a mobile website and following the measurement of testing on this device, we found that the accuracy of input wasn’t great and in general users were having issues.
This gave us even more reason to develop native applications.
How would you advocate UCL DECIDE to other startups?
It’s a good initiative meaning that our progress in early stage development was quicker as a result of the testing feedback. It’s also a great way to access the facilities and 25,000+ staff and students.
We also believe that as students stay up-to-date with technology they are likely to be early adopters of our product. Simultaneously, we were also interested in comparing the research on the student demographic to that being completed on an e-commerce site, the variation in the results provided us with the data we needed.
More information at http://pixelpin.co.uk/