University of Oulu

B. Fan, X. Su, J. Niu and P. Hui, "EmgAuth: Unlocking Smartphones With EMG Signals," in IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, vol. 22, no. 9, pp. 5248-5261, 1 Sept. 2023, doi: 10.1109/TMC.2022.3176651.

EmgAuth : unlocking smartphones with EMG signals

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Author: Fan, Boyu1; Su, Xiang2,3; Niu, Jianwei4,5;
Organizations: 1Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Computer Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Gjøvik, Norway
3Center of Ubiquitous Computing, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4State Key Laboratory of Virtual Reality Technology and Systems, School of Computer Science and Engineering, Beihang University, Beijing, China
5Zhengzhou University Research Institute of Industrial Technology, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China
6Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-08-10


Screen lock is a critical security feature for smartphones to prevent unauthorized access. Although various screen unlocking technologies, including fingerprint and facial recognition, have been widely adopted, they still have some limitations. For example, fingerprints can be stolen by special material stickers and facial recognition systems can be cheated by 3D-printed head models. In this paper, we propose EmgAuth, a novel electromyography(EMG)-based smartphone unlocking system based on the Siamese network. EmgAuth enables users to unlock their smartphones by leveraging the EMG data of the smartphone users collected from Myo armbands. When training the Siamese network, we design a special data augmentation technique to make the system resilient to the rotation of the armband, which makes EmgAuth free of calibration. We conduct extensive experiments including 80 participants and the evaluation results verify that EmgAuth can effectively authenticate users with an average true acceptance rate of 91.81% while keeping the average false acceptance rate of 7.43%. In addition, we also demonstrate that EmgAuth can work well for smartphones with different screen sizes and for different scenarios when users are placing smartphones at different locations and with different orientations. EmgAuth shows great promise to serve as a good supplement for existing screen unlocking systems to improve the safety of smartphones.

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Series: IEEE transactions on mobile computing
ISSN: 1536-1233
ISSN-E: 1558-0660
ISSN-L: 1536-1233
Volume: 22
Issue: 9
Pages: 5248 - 5291
DOI: 10.1109/tmc.2022.3176651
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
Funding: This work was supported in part by the Academy of Finland, under Grants 3196669, 319670, 325774, 326305, and 325570, in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, under Grant 61772060.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 319669
Detailed Information: 319669 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
319670 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
325774 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
326305 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
325570 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. For more information, see