BRISBANE, Australia, July 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Over 280 million CAPTCHAs are solved by people every day, and we hate them, especially on mobile. Your time is wasted trying to solve these to comment, sign up, message, and so on.
As time goes on, these twisty letters get harder to solve, as the spambots get wiser.
Thankfully, Brisbane-based startup SwipeAds is pioneering the gamification of CAPTCHAs to save us all. On a rainy Brisbane morning, I caught up with ex-Atari game designer and co-founder of SwipeAds, the California-raised Matthew Ford.
What is SwipeAds doing to help us? "We make this product called 'FunCaptcha'. Instead of solving twisty letters, we use something that humans are even better at, and that's playing games and recognising visual patterns."
FunCaptcha uses image recognition. To solve the puzzle, turn the image the right way up, drag the correct image to the centre, move the spaceship sideways– the possibilities are endless and trickier for spambots to target. As Ford explains, "Humans find image recognition and games really easy to solve, computers don't."
When faced with the usability agony of solving traditional CAPTCHAs such as Google's ReCAPTCHA, your morale takes a nose dive, as the frustration mounts. Gamifying CAPTCHA is set to reduce user anxiety, as the co-founder continues: "If you happen to get FunCaptcha wrong, and you start over again, you don't feel personally insulted, it feels like a game."
People are solving FunCaptcha faster. "If we take a look at our statistics, most twisty letter CAPTCHAs are being solved in around 15 seconds. With ours, I personally can solve it in 3-4 seconds, and we are seeing a lot of sub-10-second solves."
And there are rewards. "The faster you solve our puzzles, the more stars you get. This follows you around from site to site, so you get to make a competition for yourself, and eventually reap the rewards of that because loyalty schemes can be created via FunCaptcha."
Since FunCaptcha's beta release in February this year, more than 10 million pieces of spam have been stopped across 2400 sites, and security is not an issue, "We've had security experts look at our site, and tell us our solution is very secure, but we will never stop working on the security aspect of the technology. We will remain hard to crack."
FunCaptcha is the only secure CAPTCHA that does not need you to type.
Solve Media are on track to generate 13M-16M in advertising revenue in 2013. Solve's technology uses an image of an advertisement that displays a text phrase on it. To crack the CAPTCHA puzzle, you are asked to type a cringeworthy ad phrase such as 'UPS loves logistics'.
It's easier than solving twisty letters, but this technology has its own set of potential issues, as Ford looks ahead. "As soon as Solve's solution gets widespread, spammers will try to attack it. Everyone should be really wary of any solution that an expert from the outside can't examine and testify that it seems secure."
Web developers should proceed with care, because when a CAPTCHA is cracked, the consequences can be severe, and come very quickly, "Google's ReCAPTCHA uses twisty letters which are not attack-proof, but fairly solid. Unfortunately, they are so annoying! All the CAPTCHA alternatives that don't use twisty letters have real security problems, in our analysis, and experts back us up."
How does FunCaptcha intend to stop the spammers? "We don't rely on a mysterious magic formula to figure out if you are a spammer. It's pretty simple. The only two vulnerabilities we have, according to experts who have examined our solution, are an image-recognition attack and a guessing attack."
"The image recognition path is hard and expensive, looking at academic journals proves that. It's cheaper to attack someone else or send the puzzles to a sweatshop. The guessing attack is easy to detect because it fails often. As we get failures from an address, the sequence of puzzles gets longer. It's still fast for humans but becomes extremely hard for bots to guess."
FunCaptcha's puzzles are distributed from the cloud, if a vulnerability is found, the company can pull the compromised puzzle out of circulation instantly, making the effort to crack it – worthless.
Making Money – Precious Engagement
Banner ads are dead and pre-roll video advertising makes you want to sew your eyes shut with chicken wire. FunCaptcha solves user pains and provides an opportunity for advertisers to secure precious engagement with their brand. As Ford notes, "A CAPTCHA is pretty much the only type of ad where you know the user is not a spambot and is really engaging with your brand and not looking somewhere else on the screen."
The level of engagement is expected to be higher and well worth the money. Once ads are introduced, site owners using FunCaptcha will earn a share of the revenue generated. As Ford says, "This solution is fun, fast, and people enjoy it more than the typed-in CAPTCHA, which is great news for both advertisers and site owners."
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