Tales from Startup Alley: AirSig

AirSig gave one of my favoritest demos of the past several TechCrunch Disrupts. I met with the team behind this Taiwanese startup on Monday to see their authentication technology in action. Remember in the ancient pre-digital world how your signature uniquely identified you? AirSig updates this idea by tapping into the gyros and accelerometers found in smartphones.

With a little guidance from AirSig’s CMO, Mark Yu, I used an Android phone as as kind of virtual pen to write my name in the air. I air signed my name three times to train the software– available on Google Play. Yu said the hard part was to come up with an algorithm that learned what makes your air signature unique and then fit the resulting digital signature file into the phone’s memory. I’m told the resulting file is quite small.

It worked flawlessly. To unlock their demo app, I virtually air wrote my name and AirSig instantly recognized me. Even after I told one on the AirSig’s engineers–btw, also a fellow member of the Andy tribe– what my signature was, he was unable to duplicate my unique style. According to their marketing, the “false positive” rate is extremely low, and they claim far better accuracy than standard biometric techniques–thumbprints. Yu calls their whole system three-factor authentication. That is the phone itself and the air signature add two extra layers to a standard password.

AirSig stood out from many of the other Startup Alley companies–social media and real-time chat wannabes–at this year’s Disrupt. I hope they get into the Battlefield.