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Are You A Human Confirms Man Or Machine With Games

Start-up offers new type of CAPTCHA that doesn't rely on discerning and typing letters and numbers from distorted text prompts
CAPTCHA start-up Are You A Human came out of stealth this week with a new spin on the bot-checking authentication scheme used by websites -- one that requires playing a short game rather than retyping distorted text.

CAPTCHAs are the pervasive method of distinguishing a man from a machine. According to a survey of 1,000 users by Are You A Human, nearly one-fourth of website visitors leave rather than solve the CAPTCHA, which can be difficult to read.

The company offers PlayThru, a game-based CAPTCHA that requires users to solve simple animated games, such as dragging and dropping toppings onto a pizza, or placing food in a refrigerator. According to the survey, most users prefer this approach to traditional CAPTCHAs, and it yields a 40 percent increase in submission rates.

Reid Tatoris, COO of Detroit-based Are You A Human (AYAH), says most CAPTCHAs are easier to crack by hackers than they are to use by legitimate users. "We came up with a simple game that's intuitive for people: You build a face and drag the eyes and mouth over, for instance, or put food in the fridge," Tatoris says.

The underlying algorithms calculate how the user plays the game, and how long it takes him to execute a step, as well as characteristics of his mouse movements, among other behaviors. "With a traditional CAPTCHA, you have to enter a code and get it correct. We look at how you complete the task," Tatoris says. It's a better way to distinguish between bots and people, he says.

The new method is also dynamic, not static, he says. AYAH offers 10 different games now that each have random sequences, and is creating one or two more each week.

PlayThru currently is integrated with WordPress, Drupal, PHPBB, and vBulletin, as well as with popular code formats. Users can download it here for free.

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