Yahoo patents video CAPTCHA

Yahoo’s video CAPTCHA patent generally revolves around the central idea “The invention relates generally to computer systems, and more particularly to an improved system and method using a streaming captcha for online verification.”

The video CAPTCHA patent appears to have come out of Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik School of Computer Sciences, who advise is purely research but it encourages a new way of thinking.

While i think this is a great move forward to combat spam and reduce the effects of social engineering but as most people seem to hate and often find some of the CAPTCHA’s difficult aren’t they just making it harder?

I agree that one of the central issues is bandwidth and it is something that really hasn’t been thought through with many of these patents lodged by tech companies.  Unless they plan to ignore the fastest growing segment “mobile” which is already having bandwidth issues via AT&T in the USA.

The only point I could speculate is that it might be used for other devices such as Satellite TV, public Kiosks or secure websites such as Banks which seem suitable platforms for this technology as they maybe inclined to be more open to social engineering.

It could be more useful to ensure that if someone is watching over your shoulder what you enter, the video patterns may make it harder to read and even impossible to recall? To reduce the chances that a non-human is trying to guess the characters the patent allows for the response to be timed, which can further impact those with slow internet connections.

Emergence is impossible for Bots

The next steps revolve around 3-D images but the first task is that they have to discover the parameters of “perception difficulty level” to ensure the application can be used for future security applications. The process is focused around how humans can perceive emergence images or the ability to aggregate information from seemingly meaningless images. The image below is such an image that we can process but computers will fail to understand.

Emergence Image Teaser

If you look closely at the image is there anything that hops out….

Another one of the sample images based around this is more of a best friend to most men.

So why not just improve KittenAuth?

So while this is a great move forward to prevent spam comments it seems to be a more advanced version of KittenAuth which requires visitors to count the correct number of animals in the image. The problem was that KittenAuth can be beaten with brute force attempts and requires a massive database of images. With time the bots can begin to learn so the image set may have to alternate between animals and objects and show below.

The other item identified in the creators improving KittenAuth post was that the bots would take screenshots of the CAPTCHA and a human would enter the relevant code which was passed back to the bot.  The Yahoo patent timing element would likely make this process much harder or atleast require more resources and make the site less attractive to spammers.

Watch the future of CAPTCHA

If you want to watch the video of the likely spam benefits of emergence images and how algorithmic trackers struggle to capture anything more than garbage. This makes it possible for the same image or video used more than once as slight elements such as colours, size and length could trick bots.

http://aiw2.uspto.gov/.aiw?Docid=20090328163&homeurl=http%3A%2F%2Fappft1.uspto.gov%2Fnetacgi%2Fnph-Parser%3FSect1%3DPTO2%2526Sect2%3DHITOFF%2526u%3D%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html%2526r%3D4%2526p%3D1%2526f%3DG%2526l%3D50%2526d%3DPG01%2526S1%3Dyahoo.AS.%2526OS%3D%2526RS%3D&PageNum=&Rtype=&SectionNum=&idkey=6FC696AE4CAE“perception difficulty level”


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3 comments

  1. Ivo says:

    A nice article, however, none of the links to patents actually refer to anything related to CAPTCHAs (one redirects to yahoo site, other one is a patent about DNS beacons). Also, is this video related to Yahoo stuff or is that something else? (who published that video?)

    Thanks a lot, if you care to answer!

    • David says:

      Ivo,

      thanks for the comment and i’m sorry to say that it appears Yahoo has closed down the part of their site that contained extra information about their video CAPTCHA product and it seems the patent has also been updated to link to a non-relevant patent on DNS. The links used to be relevant and accurate when the post was written but that is often the case that items change and get deleted.

      The video relates to the Yahoo patent and the details on how it works that was presented at a conference.