Someday, CAPTCHA security tests -- designed to make sure you’re not a bot -- will seem as unnecessary as a middle-aged man being carded at a bar. But, since bio-factor recognition is not yet commonplace, Confident Technologies has released what it calls the first enterprise-level CAPTCHA for mobile devices.

The new Confident CAPTCHA -- apparently confident that it won’t fail in its job as a virtual bouncer -- is specifically designed for smartphones and tablets. But, instead of asking you to type the letters of a word that looks like it was copied onto Silly Putty and twisted, this CAPTCHA mercifully requests you select several small pictures on the screen as “answers” to a series of brief instructions.

Grid of Images

Bots are evil cousins to intelligent software, intended to spread spam, register accounts that aren’t real, make fraudulent purchases, and otherwise be a threat to password-protected sites and apps. As malware increasingly infects mobile devices, CAPTCHAs are called to arms -- but, fortunately, the Confident folks understand that twisted word recognition, hard enough on a large-screen computer, could be downright infuriating on a smartphone’s small screen. Worse, it could make a user abandon a purchase.

In addition to having to scroll, zoom or move a word-based CAPTCHA on a smartphone, for instance, users also have to call up and use the keyboard, and often switch the keyboard modes between letters, numbers and symbols while they type.  

Instead, this mobile CAPTCHA displays a grid of images that scales to fill the screen of the mobile device, so no scrolling or zooming is needed to read it. The grid orients to portrait or landscape orientation, and the user taps the appropriate images with a thumb.

Do That, Human

The mobile CAPTCHA displays a brief instruction about which images you should tap. For instance, as shown in a Confident demo video: “Click the toys and games.” After clicking on the image(s) that is a toy or game, the user is then instructed to click on the car, the flower, and the dog, in sequence.

Do that, and you truly are a human.

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Confident Executive Vice President Bill Goldbach said in a statement that “the typing- and text-based approaches to CAPTCHA used on most websites today are so difficult and frustrating for mobile users they are nearly unworkable.” He also noted that, as smartphones and tablets are increasingly used for common computing tasks, Confident CAPTCHAs offer a balance between security and usability.