Friday, November 23, 2007

Popular Science - 2007 Innovation Of The Year

Nanosolar's approach combines the advantages of thin films with the power of electrically matched cells, resulting in better panel efficiency distribution and yield. Image Credit: Nanosolar

Popular Science - 2007 Innovation Of The Year

PowerSheet is “green”, aluminum silver, and inked all over and comes in as Popular Science’s 2007 Innovation Of The Year.

The PowerSheet represents a new way capturing energy from the sun. What makes the PowerSheet a real innovation is that the manufacturing process does not use the expensive and limiting method of using silicon on which to generate electricity. Basically, Nanosolar, a Silicon Valley based company, was able to sandwich thin layers of paint that has the property to convert light to electricity, in aluminum sheets and deliver solar conversion at a fraction of the cost of traditional solar panels.
Image Credit: Nanosolar

PowerSheet says it all in its name. The new “sandwiched sheet” material can be made into roofing materials, window coatings, and other exterior wraps that will have the ability to grab power from the sun. The technology breakthrough moves the cost from about $3 per watt of energy for traditional silicon solar cells, $1 per watt for coal, to as little as 30 cents a watt for the Nanosolar PowerSheet.

How It Works

This excerpted and edited from Popular Science Magazine -

The New Dawn of Solar
By MICHAEL MOYER – Popular Science - 11-22-2007

Imagine a solar panel without the panel. Just a coating, thin as a layer of paint, that takes light and converts it to electricity.
Consider solar-powered buildings stretching not just across sunny Southern California, but through China and India and Kenya as well, because even in those countries, going solar will be cheaper than burning coal. That’s the promise of thin-film solar cells: solar power that’s ubiquitous because it’s cheap. The basic technology has been around for decades, but this year, Silicon Valley–based Nanosolar created the manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality.

Accelerated lifetime testing is possible through specialized equipment that performs many –40°C to +85°C heat cycles per day, that exposes solar cells to intense UV light, and that exposes them to intense humidity. This has made it possible for us to study potential degradation mechanisms at accelerated time scale during product development. Image Credit: Nanosolar

The company produces its PowerSheet solar cells with printing-press-style machines that set down a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil, so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute.
Cost has always been one of solar’s biggest problems. Traditional solar cells require silicon, and silicon is an expensive commodity (exacerbated currently by a global silicon shortage). What’s more, says Peter Harrop, chairman of electronics consulting firm IDTechEx, “it has to be put on glass, so it’s heavy, dangerous, expensive to ship and expensive to install because it has to be mounted.” And up to 70 percent of the silicon gets wasted in the manufacturing process. That means even the cheapest solar panels cost about $3 per watt of energy they go on to produce. To compete with coal, that figure has to shrink to just $1 per watt.

Printing is by far the simplest, highest-yield, and most capital-efficient technique for depositing thin films. Printing is extremely fast; the equipment involved is easy to use and maintain; and it works in plain air (no vacuum chamber required). Another key advantage of a printable CIGS ink is that one can print it just where one wants it to be, achieving high materials utilization of the semiconductor material. Image Credit: Nanosolar

Nanosolar’s cells use no silicon, and the company’s manufacturing process allows it to create cells that are as efficient as most commercial cells for as little as 30 cents a watt. “You’re talking about printing rolls of the stuff—printing it on the roofs of 18-wheeler trailers, printing it on garages, printing it wherever you want it,” says Dan Kammen, founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. “It really is quite a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar and in inherently altering the economics of solar.”

Highlight 2007: Parallel construction of factories in California and Germany commences. The product specification is finalized in close collaboration with leading customers. Image Credit: Nanosolar

In San Jose, Nanosolar has built what will soon be the world’s largest solar-panel manufacturing facility.
Right now, the biggest question for Nanosolar is not if its products can work, but rather if it can make enough of them. California, for instance, recently launched the Million Solar Roofs initiative, which will provide tax breaks and rebates to encourage the installation of 100,000 solar roofs per year, every year, for 10 consecutive years (the state currently has 30,000 solar roofs). The company is ready for the solar boom. “Most important,” Harrop says, “Nanosolar is putting down factories instead of blathering to the press and doing endless experiments. These guys are getting on with it, and that is impressive.”
Reference Here>>

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Barcodes For The Bird Lover Makes Editors Choice

iFlyer consumer barcode scanner helps with the identification of bird calls with the bird that made the call. Image credit: iFlyer - Birdsong Identiflyer

Barcodes For The Bird Lover Makes Editors Choice

Would-be ornithologists the world over have trouble getting started in their budding pursuit. In order to be a good “twitcher”, one needs to be able to match the bird with the sound.

iFlyer consumer barcode scanner scans barcodes on the bird identification card and plays the call. Image credit: iFlyer - Birdsong Identiflyer

Experts say that 70% of bird identification is through the bird’s song rather than identifying by sight.

The iFlyer was just given a 2007 Editors Choice Award by Organic Gardening Magazine. It is easy to see and hear why. This consumer barcode scanner and booklet made the cut along with other helpful items that include a folding saw, a digging tool, a hat, a kneeling mat, a plant labeler, a mulching fork, long-handled tools, and a power cultivator.

The iFlyer is a unique idea on playing and identifying bird calls. The device is a wand with a bar code reader, memory and a speaker. When you draw the scanning end across the bar code that is next to the color image of a bird, the wand plays the sound of the bird pictured.

A colorful booklet packaged with the iFlyer contains over 200 bird illustrations (and 10 Frogs), with a barcode printed next to each image. A set of stickers with bird names and codes is provided, so one can put them in his own field guide!

Just in time for Christmas, a gift of Barcodes for the budding birder!

This device may give rise to a whole new meaning of the phrase … “scanning the horizon”.

This SongCard is an effective, safe and responsible way to attract all birds within listening range. Image Credit: iFlyer - Birdsong Identiflyer

This edited from Organic Gardening Magazine -

Editors Choice Awards 2007
By Zazel Loven – Organic Gardening – November 19, 2007

Every season--sometimes it seems like every day--we hear from garden-product makers who want us to try a revolutionary new tool or gizmo that's certain to make tending our beds easier, more rewarding, and downright fun. But our group of evaluators (which includes OG editors and test gardeners, as well as the pros who care for the gardens of our founders, the Rodale family) is a skeptical bunch.

We've tried a shed full of products that are at best nothing special and at worst [insert favorite expression for manure here]. After this season's trials with dozens of products, we all agree that these 12 deliver on their promises and are worthy of our Editors' Choice award this year (and might make a nice gift for your own holiday list).

Testers included: Lisa Gabory, Josh Brunner, Dale Geist, Pam Ruch, Brad Pollock, and Suzanne Royer. Not shown: Don Boekelheide, Maggie Kuschner, and Zazel Lovén.

Wildlife Identifier
Okay, this one is pure fun, but we enjoyed the iFlyer BirdSong Scanning Wand all season long. Recorded in the wild, the songs of 206 birds and 10 frogs are captured on bar codes in a pocket-sized book, and you play the sounds by simply passing the penlike instrument over the bar codes. Adults wanted to use this audio wildlife ID guide as much as children. Included are a carrying case, plus shoulder and wrist straps. $100;

Folding Saw
Josh likes the Pocketboy 170 Folding Saw for its comfortable rubber handle and secure locking mechanism. The clip-on carrying case keeps it handy (such as on Josh's belt here), and the blade is replaceable. Pam and Maggie rely on the extra-fine-toothed tool for fast and smooth pruning of errant branches in the OG Test Garden. $29;

Moth Protection
You can protect crops from flying pests effectively without toxic sprays using this product created by a home gardener. Pam notes that the medium Moth-Blocker completely prevented cabbage moths from laying their eggs on broccoli and cauliflower, then went on to protect Brussels-sprout seedlings destined for the fall garden. $35;

Row Cover/Shade Fabric
Nylon reinforcing threads make Tufbell more durable than other row covers, says Don, our North Carolina test gardener. Here, Josh and OG art director Gavin Robinson use it in the OG Test Garden to let sunlight and water reach the plants while protecting them from weather and animal damage. $60 for 20 feet;

Digging Tool
The shape and sharp edges of the Pro Gardener's Digging Tool, popular with professionals, make it great for digging out tough weeds, report Pam and her crew. The serrated edge cuts roots and vines--especially the massive roots of biennial weeds such as burdock, Pam adds. $57;

The Adventure Hat does much more than provide some shade, Pam says. The lightweight fabric fully blocks the sunlight, protecting your face, nose, ears, and back of the neck from harmful rays. "I love this hat," says the usually restrained Pam, "and you can quote me." $38;

The OXO Garden Kneeling Mat is our constant companion in the garden. The extra thickness makes kneeling easy and keeps dampness at bay. You can work longer in the garden because the kneeler makes it easy to change position--flip it closed, and it's a comfortable seat. $15;

Professionals who regularly work with tools know that sharp edges make everything from shovels and spades to pruners much more effective. The Swiss Professional Sharpener lets you give your tools a fresh edge quickly and easily without disassembling them. $28;

Plant Labeler
We spend a surprising amount of time thinking about, discussing, and making identification signs for our plots. Lisa, who cares for the ornamental beds at the Rodale family gardens, raved about the Brother PT-1280 Label Maker because it allowed her to fit all the plant information she wanted on one label. And the labels stayed clear and legible after a whole season of exposure. Techno-savvy gardeners can use the labeler to transfer plant information to their computers for future reference. About $40 at office-supply stores;

Power Cultivator
The most useful cultivator this season was the new Stihl MM 55 Yard Boss. Dale and Brad found it powerful for cultivating and aerating soil at the Rodale family gardens, and its new handle and wheel innovations make it easy to manipulate. About $330;

Mulching Fork
Suzanne especially liked the unique shape of the Unifork for gathering large amounts of material. Made of high-grade polypropylene, it will never rust and is lightweight. Vegetable gardener and tester Brad reports that it's surprisingly effective at heavy-duty compost turning and mulching. $40;

Long-Handled Tools
Designed to relieve arm, hand, and wrist stress, the Radius long-handled tools won over all of our testers (male and female). With stainless-steel working ends, a unique handle design, and generous stepping edges, these tools proved both comfortable to use, Lisa reports, and strong enough for every garden task. $35;
Reference Here>>

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blogworld & New Media Expo -- “Woodstock For Geeks”

"Turn out the lights ... the party's over" - BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2007 show banner at night after the show. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (Symblogogy)

Blogworld & New Media Expo -- “Woodstock For Geeks”

Attending a tradeshow usually becomes an exercise in real work. One attends conference modules headed up by well oiled presentations that are tightly scripted and thinly veiled attempts at a one hour advertisement of the product or service the presenter is tied to. Exhibits on the showfloor, generally, are laid out with the fortune 500 companies and/or industry leaders of the exposition's primary focus at the front of the hall, followed by dozens of “me too” offerings scattered throughout the hall. One has to turn over a lot of rocks in order to find a gem to write about or to find a new, unique approach that amazes.

Blogworld & New Media Expo was a tradeshow of a surprising and different stripe. First, this debut of a conference and exposition presented strong, established, and well defined names that operate successful media and world wide web communications platforms. Blogword then included newer technology players into the mix, and attracted an audience of over 1,500 focused and information-starved (this does not mean uninformed) weblog participants looking to become better at the craft they forge. The wealth of discovery and collaboration of this unique event was impressive.

Educational and reference resources were in abundance at the BlogWorld Bookstore. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (Symblogogy)

In the conferences, the offering of expert-presented topics was almost too much too absorb. Topics were broken down into focus tracks which helped but many of the topics overlapped, so it was impossible to get to all of the information available – kind of like one large supermarket of information. One small suggestion for future consideration --- have longer trade show visitation periods planned into the conference schedule and possibly offer the most heavily-attended sessions at more than one timeslot to allow access to more exhibitors and session topics.

Andy Beal presenting on "Integrating New Media into your Marketing Mix". Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (Symblogogy)

Track titles included Beginners, Advanced, Podcasting & New Media, Entrepreneur, Monetization, Executive, Sports Blogging, Milblogging, Political, and Special Interest Sessions. Each track offered four sessions on different topics per day and, to be honest, this was a little overwhelming. For example, if one were a writer on politics and wanted to learn how to subsidize his effort, he would have trouble choosing between sessions held at the same time titled “Smart Ways To Monetize Your Blog” and “The Power Of The Political Blogosphere.” Needless to say, many choices and so little time. Perhaps that's what made it such a great event.

Hugh Hewitt broadcasting his radio talkshow live from the tradeshow floor. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (Symblogogy)

On the exhibit floor, many new and innovative software, advertising, and web community companies populated the hall, all with a great story to tell. Due to the rapid interest and growth of the social media side of the internet (Technorati currently tracks 110 million weblogs), some company efforts were showing for the first time.

TALKSHOE tradeshow booth demonstration. Anyone can easily create, join, or listen to live interaction audioblogs, podcasts, discussions, and conversations (called Talkcasts). Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (Symblogogy)

Yahoo, AOL, Pajamas Media, The Truth Laid Bear, Technorati, Microsoft,, Blogger & Podcaster Magazine, SharedBook, ibnma – International Blogging & New Media Association, lingospot, podango, sphere, DOC’S Sports Service, Blog Talk Radio, PRWeb, and GodBlogCon were just a few of the exhibitors with strong solutions wanting to grow with this whole communications concept that has come to be known as BLOGGING.

With all the time spent absorbing information and solutions at the show one would think there would be little time to connect and network on a more human level – WRONG! On opening night, a pajama party sponsored by several industry leaders (Pajamas Media, Zune, Technorati come to mind) billed as the “World’s Largest Pajama Party” was held at “The Joint” inside the Hard Rock Hotel. Several people took the pajama challenge seriously and the crowd attitude was running high from physical community discovery. Both DJ-performed and Live Music played throughout the evening with an interruption for the 2007 Weblog Awards. Food, Fun, and Conversation were in plentiful supply as the night wound on with few people feeling pressed to end this time spent with like-minded people too early.

Weblog 2007 Video Category winner, Mary Katharine Ham. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (Symblogogy)

Yes, this first ever Blogworld & New Media Expo was a surprising success and it all goes off again next year in September 2008 right here in LA’s favorite suburb … Las Vegas.

Come one and come all to the second edition of a "Woodstock for Geeks” … all the like-minded people, music, no mud!

Congratulations to all the 2007 Weblog Awardees!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

VIVA, Las Vegas! – It’s A Whole New (blog) World!

Image Credit:

VIVA, Las Vegas! – It’s A Whole New (blog) World!

From LA, it’s just a short four hour drive across the desert with the “FM 98&99 - The Highway Stations" filling in on the background while we, at Symblogogy press across the winding road to Las Vegas. Starting Wednesday, and continuing through to Friday, a “First Ever” tradeshow catering to individuals and businesses that tie at least some of their efforts to the process of communication and commerce through the computer and the internet.

Featured exhibiting enterprises include weblog advertising agencies, news source aggregators, web-metrics analysis companies, digital to analog (and back) publishers, broadcasting/podcasting audio and video enterprises, search engine and front page information tools businesses, virus security protection companies, investment opportunity enterprises, special interest blog communities, communications associations, application software developers, employment agencies, transportation companies, and website development entrepreneurs.

Beginning Wednesday, a one day conference entitled Executive & Entrepreneur Conference – followed Thursday and Friday by blogworld & New Media EXPO will highlight all that the this brave new digital communications world has to offer.

The Executive & Entrepreneur Conference will host sessions that will explore subjects from “The Importance of Blogging & New Media In Your Organization/Strategic Marketing” to Search Engine Optimization: Best Practices, and includes “Going Global with New Media”.

blogworld& New Media EXPO conference continue with two more days of sessions on “Citizen Journalism & Mainstream Media” to “Smart Ways To Monetize Your Blog”, and includes “The Cult of Blogging” featuring radio talk show host, Hugh Hewitt and Blog Entrepreneur, Arianna Huffington.

On the exposition floor, recognizabe WWW. names such as YAHOO!, Microsoft, AOL, Pajamas Media, CAMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS, CLIQ, GodblogCon 2007, ibnma (International Blogging & New Media Association), Kithbridge, podango, PRWeb, SharedBook, SOUTHWEST Airlines, sphere, Technorati, and Townhall to mention a few will all be trying to capture the attention of and create a greater sense of community with - The Blogger.

Surrounding activities include a private pre-release movie premiere of Grace Hill Media’s “Kite Runner” with a question and answer session with the star of the movie moderated by respected movie critic and radio talk show host, Michael Medved.

This from Grace Hill Media -

Image Credit: ecj via Grace Hill Media

And a major sponsor pajama party at “The Joint” at the Hard Rock Hotel!

This from Pajamas Media -

What Happens at Blog World Stays at Blog World
Posted At Pajamas Media 11-07-2007

On Thursday and Friday, bloggers and blog readers will assemble at the Las Vegas Convention Center for the first annual Blog World Expo. In addition to the non-stop panels, a “Pajama Party” will be held Thursday night at the Hard Rock Hotel. Among the Pajamahadeen on hand: Glenn Reynolds, Roger L. Simon, Rick Moran, Stephen Green, Ed Driscoll and Aaron Hanscom.

Read more about the festivities, prizes, and (yes) showgirls…

TRUEVIEW EVENTS - Murder Mystery days, Murder Mystery dinners, Murder Mystery teambuilding events. Film Making days, Advert making days, Treasure Hunts, and many more teambuilding activities. Image Credit: Trueview Events in association with Pajamas Media

It’s Vegas, after all, and when in Rome…

Showgirls wearing Pajamas Media sashes. At the Pajamas Media booth, comic Evan Sayet will be holding forth as the “White House Press Secretary” twice a day. Visitors to the booth get a free Pajamas Media sleep mask. And those who are bold enough to hold their own Press Conference have a chance to win an iPod!
Reference Here>>

The point of all of this is to allow the people who participate in this relatively new pursuit of weblog-ing and associated world wide web activity to come together as a community and share in this like minded effort to mix/mingle and communicate. It's kind'a like a "Woodstock for Wordsmiths" ...

Monday, November 05, 2007

SharedBook Offers Recipes For Tactile Communication

“Create-A-Cookbook” hardcover examples from using SharedBook’ reverse publishing platform. SharedBook Inc. is a technology company that specializes in integrating and publishing data from various sources into a structured book product that can sit as a flipbook on the Internet or be professionally printed. Image Credit: Compilation Of Images From SharedBook Inc. - ecj

SharedBook Offers Recipes For Tactile Communication

At Symblogogy, we are always on the lookout for tools that automate our lives, both personally and professionally.

New Media participants have always had a problem in trying to translate captured digital data to the tactile world. How does one create something that is truly tangible in a digital, bits and bytes universe?

Business and social enterprises, like Resorts, Funeral Homes, Alumni Associations, Weblogs, and etc., that cater to Audience-Of-One strategies for the capture and presentation of this digital information now have an ally in the ability to preserve and deliver published evidence of one's digital experience.

Two-page screenshot of a display showing an actual blog post from MAXINE for October 30, 2007 (click image for full size)- Content owners on Google's Blogger platform and their readers can now use the Blog2Print widget to turn posts into a printed book with a single click. Additional compatibility with other platforms and edit/format capabilities will become available throughout this next year. Image Credit: SharedBook inc. - ecj

Blog2Print allows any weblog activity to be turned into a book to be shared with others for any purpose. These books can be published in either hardcover or soft-cover and in any quantity desired. The purpose is the purpose one chooses.

For example, let’s say that one is a creative, New Media-savvy Real Estate Agent and the Agent augments the sales activity for each property with a weblog highlighting unique characteristics of the property that is being marketed. In addition to being able to direct prospective buyers to information specifically about the property, the Agent can have the weblog converted to a hardcover book for use as a reference at the house when showing potential buyers. Once the property enters into escrow, the Agent can hand the new owner a book that they can refer to while waiting for escrow to close.

On a purely personal level, first time parents are turning to the web to help them cope with the demands of disseminating information on the new Charge. Digital is nice, in that one can instantly grab a photo, and post a story, whereby the whole family can share in the developments of the growth experiences of the baby.

So, how does the Baby Boomer generation grandparent share the excitement of the new addition to others in their life’s circle? Carry around 8.5”X11” sheets of paper with inkjet streaks caused because it might have been raining the last time the photos were pulled out to show others?

Blog2Print widget - once Blog2Print has been added to your blog (link on widget), you'll make money each time a book of your blog is purchased! You'll receive 20% of the sales of the books sold from your blog. Caption & Image Credit: SharedBook Inc.

Solution - just press the SharedBook Blog2Print widget placed at the Charge’s weblog to create and order a hard or soft cover bound publication of what had been posted that month. No more worries on what to do and how to go about the difficult task of moving back to the tactile “analog” world from our shared digital experience.

Just in time for this holiday season … and beyond, SharedBook and join forces to cook up and deliver digital documentation of recipes back to a useful, tactile and shared medium – The Book.

SharedBook Logo – Image Credit: SharedBook Inc.

This excerpted from a press release issued by SharedBook Inc. –


Just in Time for the Holidays: Home Cooks Can Now Automatically Publish Collections of their Favorite Recipes in Professionally-Printed Cookbooks

NEW YORK – November 5, 2007 –
SharedBook Inc., the Reverse Publishing Platform provider, and, the world’s largest online community food site, today introduced Create-A-Cookbook – a Web application allowing home cooks to self-publish professionally-printed hard- or softcover cookbooks from their favorite online and personal recipes. Beginning today, members can choose from more than 40,000 recipes to include in their personalized cookbooks, and then add their own recipes, notes, stories, and photographs.
Create-A-Cookbook is an easy, one-click way to compile recipes in a book format that can be used and moved anywhere for easy access. With Create-A-Cookbook, users can also preserve treasured family recipes in the self-published on-demand cookbook, as well as share their favorite recipes with family and friends. Themed cookbooks can also be created for events such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, and for single subjects like soups or Italian food.

“For many of us, recipes and special foods are closely connected with cherished family memories, especially during the holiday season,” said Lisa Sharples, President, “Create-A-Cookbook is a unique way for our members to preserve their favorite recipes along with the stories and photographs that make them special.”

Now, with just a few clicks using SharedBook’s Reverse Publishing Platform, members can automatically flow recipes and photographs from their online Recipe Boxes into a structured cookbook that can be published in hard or softcover format. They can then choose to preview and purchase the cookbook immediately or to personalize it further. Members can edit the content, upload additional information and photographs for the covers and the inside pages, and order as many or as few cookbooks as they want. members can also invite family and friends into their personal cookbook publishing space to contribute their comments and photos.
For anyone hesitant to share closely-guarded recipes online, the personal cookbook publishing space provides a secure environment where home cooks can display their recipes only to those they invite.
For more information, please go to

About SharedBook

SharedBook Inc. is a technology company that specializes in integrating and publishing data from various sources into a structured book product that can sit as a flipbook on the Internet or be professionally printed. The company’s collaborative on-demand Reverse Publishing Platform allows users to extract data and content from multiple sources, manipulate it, and then distribute their unique creation in digital or hard copy format. SharedBook partners include AYSO® Soccer, Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Canyons Resort, CarePages, Inc. (a division of Revolution Health Group), Cruise West Cruise Lines, Exposures, 4-H, JumpTV Sports,, Little League International®, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Sportography, Inc., Steamboat Ski Resort, 30 Minute Photos Etc., USA Football,, and Yosemite. For more information, please go to or

About, the world’s largest independent food site, is an online cooking community where home cooks from around the world share, rate and download recipes and meal ideas. With more than 5.5 million unique visitors a month and a membership base more than a million strong, is the world’s largest test kitchen, offering a nightly glimpse into the kitchens and habits of home cooks everywhere, and providing an indispensable resource for anyone seeking trusted recipes, everyday and holiday meal ideas, practical cooking tips and food advice. The site features more than 40,000 of America’s best-loved recipes. For additional information regarding, please visit
Reference Here>>

Drop by and see SharedBook and its publishing solutions for the digital age in Las Vegas at the BlogWorld & New Media EXPO - Booth #201 at the Las Vegas Convention Center - November 8-9, 2007.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Picture This! Password Technology To Draw Upon

This Triangle Scheme example [Figure 12 – Sobrado and Birget 2002] of a pass-go “Graphical Password” process as delivered in a thesis submitted by Hai Tao, University of Ottawa, June 2006 - Ottawa, Canada -- Image Credit: Pass-Go, a New Graphical Password Scheme – Hai Tao Thesis

Picture This! Password Technology To Draw Upon

A new layer to the security to mobility devices comes to us, not in the form of words at all, but through drawing something on a picture.

Scientists discovered that a drawn graphical sequence that uses a photo as a backdrop for reference points is an extremely effective way to secure the use of a mobility device to a specific user.

The user turns on the handheld computer or PDA/Phone and the display opens up with a photo picture image. If this PDA is not yours, one thinks … Nice picture!

The user/owner takes out the stylus and draws an overlay graphic in the same way the user/owner registered himself/herself upon the photo picture image and … Presto! … Device enabled.

One of the major advantages the scientists found through this type of “Graphical Password” process is that the entry was easier to remember for the user/owner with a thousand times greater breech protection posed from outside threats to unwanted entry.

Researchers at Newcastle University had concerns about this common need of passwords and security, and came up with innovative Graphical Passwords system, an innovative software which allows the users to access a handheld device by simply draw a picture/graphic overlayed on a picture visable on your smartphones, iPhones or PDA’s touchscreen. Image Credit: My Digital Life

This excerpted from Newcastle University in the UK -

Scientists draw on new technology to improve password protection
Published at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Washington on 30th October

An inventive way of improving password security for handheld devices such as iPhones, Blackberry and Smartphone has been developed at Newcastle University.

The software, which uses pictures instead of letters and numbers, has been initially designed for handheld devices, but could soon be expanded to other areas.
Researchers now want to examine the system’s potential for helping people with language difficulties, such as dyslexia.

Today, the use of passwords is commonplace in everything from mobile phones to cash machines and computers. But in the wake of growing concerns about traditional ‘weak’ passwords created from words and numbers, Newcastle University computer scientists have been developing alternative software which lets the user draw a picture password, known as a ‘graphical password’.

“Many people find it difficult to remember a password so choose words that are easy to remember and therefore more susceptible to hackers,” explained computer scientist Jeff Yan, a lecturer at Newcastle University.

Along with his PhD student Paul Dunphy, Dr Yan has taken the emerging Draw a Secret (DAS) technology, a graphical password scheme where users draw their secret password as a free-form image on a grid, and taken this a step further.

In DAS, the user draws an image, which is then encoded as an ordered sequence of cells. The software recalls the strokes, along with the number of times the pen is lifted.

By superimposing a background over the blank DAS grid, the Newcastle University researchers have created a system called BDAS: Background Draw a Secret. This helps users remember where they began the drawing they are using as a password and also leads to graphical passwords that are less predictable, longer and more complex.

The BDAS software encouraged people to draw more complicated password images e.g. with a larger stroke count or length, that were less symmetrical and didn’t start in the centre. This makes them much harder for people or automated hacker programs to guess. 'In essence, this is a very simple idea as it’s intuitive,” said Mr Yan. 'It may take longer to create the password initially but it’s easier to remember and more secure as a result.'

For example, if a person chooses a flower background and then draws a butterfly as their secret password image onto it, they have to remember where they began on the grid and the order of their pen strokes. It is recognised as identical if the encoding is the same, not the drawing itself, which allows for some margin of error as the drawing does not have to be re-created exactly.
After creating their secret password images on the grid, they
[testers] were asked to repeat what they had initially drawn. One week later, they were asked to re-create the same image and 95% BDAS users were able to do so within three attempts.

'The recalled BDAS passwords were, on average, more complicated than their DAS counterparts by more than 10 bits,' said Dr Yan. 'This means that the memorable BDAS passwords improved security by a factor of more than 1024. They were also more secure than current textual passwords by an even larger factor.'

He added that, of those who attempted to draw something, the creations were very much dependent on the participants’ artistic ability

Dr. Yan with PDA/Smartphone -- Image Credit: Newcastle University

'The most exciting feature is that a simple enhancement simultaneously provides significantly enhanced usability and security,' concluded Mr Yan.

The full paper: Do Background Images Improve “Draw a Secret” Graphical Passwords?, will be published at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Washington on 30th October.
Reference Here>>

You know, that if this process really catches on, it will give a whole new meaning to the expression ... "Graphical User Interface"!