Free-Form Gesture Passwords for Authentication

What is a free-form gesture password?

Free-form gesture passwords allow you to draw any shape using any number of fingers as your password. So far, it has been implemented for touchscreen devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Instead of typing, you create a gesture. 

Potential advantages?

Drawing is more natural and less-demanding than typing on touchscreen devices. Also, previous studies have shown that free-form gesture passwords provide a large password space, are resistant against shoulder surfing, and memorable. We believe gesture-based passwords present a strong candidate for alternative authentication mechanisms on mobile platforms.


  1. Can Liu, Gradeigh Clark, Janne Lindqvist. Guessing Attacks on User-Generated Gesture Passwords, in Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT), Vol. 1, No. 1, Article 3. Publication date: March 2017.
  2. Can Liu, Gradeigh Clark, Janne Lindqvist. Where Usability and Security Go Hand-in-Hand: RobustGesture-Based Authentication for Mobile Systems in CHI 2017.
  3. Yulong Yang, Gradeigh Clark, Janne Lindqvist, and Antti Oulasvirta. Free-Form Gesture Authentication in the Wild.In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 7-12, San Jose, CA (CHI'16).This paper presents the first field study of free-form gestures for authentication.
  4. Gradeigh Clark and Janne Lindqvist. Engineering Gesture-Based Authentication Systems. In IEEE Pervasive Computing 14(1): 18-25 (2015). An overview paper on different techniques to engineer gesture-based authentication systems.
  5. Sherman, Michael, Gradeigh Clark, Yulong Yang, Shridatt Sugrim, Arttu Modig, Janne Lindqvist, Antti Oulasvirta, and Teemu Roos. User-Generated Free-Form Gestures for Authentication: Security and Memorability. In Proceedings of the 12th annual international conference on Mobile systems, applications, and services (MobiSys'14), June 16-19, Bretton Woods, NH, pp. 176-189. ACM, 2014.The first study to propose free-form gestures for authentication and to study their security and memorability.



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers 1223977 and 1228777. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.