Invention Summary:

Mobile devices now provide us ubiquitous access to a vast array of media content and digital services. They allow us to access our emails and personal photos, open our cars or our garage doors, pay bills and transfer funds between our bank accounts, order merchandise, as well as control our homes. They arguably now provide the de-facto single sign on access to all our content and services, which has proven so elusive on the web. As we increasingly rely on a variety of such devices, we tend to quickly switch between them and temporarily share them with others causing potential privacy issues.

Researchers at Rutgers present a capacitive communication method through which a device can recognize who is interacting with it. The capacitive communication method in the prototype transmitter and tablet receiver show that capacitive communication through a touch screen is possible, without hardware or firmware modifications on a receiver. The signal that identifies the user can be generated by a small transmitter embedded into a ring, watch, or other artifact carried on the human body. Application of this technology may be useful for providing less obtrusive authentication with similar assurance as PIN codes or swipe patterns commonly used on smart phones today. 

Market Applications:

  • Limit access to age-appropriate games and media for our children or prevent them from accessing credit cards or sensitive information.
  • Hide sensitive personal information from strangers or colleagues when they borrow a device
  • Enhance user experience during multi-player games by indicating who touched the screen.


  • Does not require hardware or firmware modifications on a receiver
  • Low-power continuous transmitter that communicates through the skin or a mechanically triggered signet ring or other artifact that can provide security-levels sufficient for user authentication
  • May benefit other classes of applications that require data being transmitted to the device using its capacitive touchscreen as the medium.

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent pending