A device which magnifies PIN entry device (PED) keypads for visually impaired customers has proven effective at preventing criminals stealing PIN numbers by “shoulder surfing” or using cameras at cash points.
Its inventor, Neil Radford, an Enterprise Fellow at the
His research led him to look into accessibility for people with problems seeing the keypad. “At ATMs, banks were facing the challenge of producing bigger keypads for visually impaired customers but weighing that against the decreased security that would entail. Then chip and PIN came along and our research evolved into that arena. Around the same time, the criminal community developed ‘skimming’, using cameras to record key presses or peering over customers’ shoulders. I engaged with a criminal psychologist to research that.”
Radford also talked to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) to see how visually impaired people were getting on with chip and PIN. “I found out it wasn’t just partially sighted people who were having problems,” he said. “Ten million people in the
Radford worked with colleagues in the
Radford also consulted the Photonics Cluster at
As well as benefiting visually impaired and partially sighted people, vendors also see improved transaction times, as longsighted users do not have to find and put on their reading glasses.
Radford has now established a company, Secure Access Solutions Limited, to market the PED Cradle. Several chip and PIN PED vendors have expressed an interest.
The next step is an RNIB-sponsored pre-commercialisation pilot of 35 cradles in one of Boots’ main city centre stores. The RNIB is also carrying out its own independent review.
Secure Access Solutions has identified that the same issues affect transactions at ATM Cash points and is developing a range of complementary products for ATMs, which are scheduled for further trials later this year with a UK bank.