Finger-tapping could become the latest weapon in the ongoing fight against debit card fraud.
The way you tap in your PIN is unique
The way a person taps a number into a cash machine or mobile phone could be used as a means of identification according to scientists at the UK's university of Southampton.
When a person taps on an object a unique set of waveforms are produced, which can be programmed and used to verify the person's identity.
The need for tighter security for cashpoints is back in the headlines as researchers at Cambridge University find that a corrupt bank employee could crack a PIN code in just 15 attempts.
Professor Neil White from the University of Southampton's Department of Electronics and Computer Science has developed an inexpensive sensor which can be built into objects such as smart cards and handheld devices.
Without a doubt there individual styles to the way someone taps out a sequence
Professor Neil White, University of Southampton
"The concept of identifying people by how they knock or tap is not completely new," he said.
"In the early days of telegraphy, operators could identify each other by how they tapped out messages, but the concept of using a sensor for identification is novel," he added.
The system looks at the rhythm and the pressure applied when a person taps out a number.
It will not be as foolproof as other biometric identification methods such as iris recognition and fingerprinting.
According to Professor White, there is a 2-3% error rate, although the system needs further testing.
"Without a doubt there individual styles to the way someone taps out a sequence.
"But whether it would vary from how they do it on a cold winter's morning compared to a warm summer evening is yet to be tested," he said.
He envisages the system as a back-up to existing identification methods, providing another layer of verification.