Making CAPTCHAs Easy, Secure and Available for People with Disabilities

Making CAPTCHAs Easy, Secure And Available For People With Disabilities.jpeg

Kevin Gosschalk, co-founder and CEO of FunCaptcha, the most sophisticated CAPTCHA technology, chats with ITSPmagazine's Selena Templeton and Sean Martin about leveraging gamification techniques for CAPTCHAs that are secure, can't be penetrated by bots, give the user the best experience possible – and that people with accessibility requirements can still get through the challenge.

CAPTCHA is an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart" and “is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human.” I’m sure you’ve come across these little squiggly words that you had to decipher and then type in to verify that you are, indeed, human as you tried to buy, say, tickets for some event.

Here is an example of a CAPTCHA:

  Image Source:    Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

Humans are not actually that great at deciphering CAPTCHAs – in fact, machines have a much higher success rate, which is what prompted Kevin and his co-founder to launch FunCaptcha. They were building a site with a CAPTCHA and people were complaining that they couldn’t get through. So they thought ‘this is something that can be improved upon’.

FunCaptcha leverages gamification techniques for CAPTCHAs and while there is no benefit for security, they wanted to do everything in their power to motivate the user to complete the process – and give them the best experience possible even though it is a disruption in their day.

But also, FunCaptcha is accessible for people with a range of disabilities. They offer an audio-based challenge where you hear a word or words that you then have to type in, although the challenge is that machines are now capable of hearing an audio snippet, recognizing the words and then entering the text – hence the implementation of the user being asked to detect the mood or context of the sound in order to match the sound to words or text.

To reduce the false positives, FunCaptcha does a lot of “play testing” – getting in-person feedback from actual users with accessibility needs – because Kevin and his team realized that it’s really difficult for them to think and understand the same way that people with accessibility requirements do.

They also take into account what the user experience is of someone who is, say, 10 years old or kids who speak another language. This is, in part, what led to their developing the magic carpet ride! I.e. EduTouch Magic Carpet, which helps kids, including those with learning disabilities, learn in a fun, interactive and collaborative way.

Parents told us that they had never seen their kids understand how to properly line up and take turns, and our system did that automatically by saying ‘It’s XYZ’s turn, please step up to the mat’.... So I was blown away that these kids were a year or two [younger than when] they would typically learn this concept of taking turns.
— Kevin Gosschalk

To see the EduTouch Magic Carpet in action, check out these two videos.

Immersive Interactive System (a 2-minute video):


To learn more about how Kevin and his team not only solve for the human and non-human problem, but do so in a way that addresses the accessibility requirements they've uncovered throughout their career, tune in to hear our conversation with Kevin Gosschalk. I hope you enjoy it!


About Kevin Gosschalk

Kevin Gosschalk headshot.png

Kevin Gosschalk is the CEO and Co-Founder of FunCaptcha, where he leads a team of people focused on telling computers and humans apart on the Internet. He gained early recognition for his work with the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (QUT) as part of the LANDMark (Longitudinal Assessment of Novel Ophthalmic Diabetic Markers) study, where he developed an innovative mapping technique to detect early signs of diabetes using non- invasive methods.

Before FunCaptcha, Kevin worked on gaming hardware for the intellectually disabled at the Endeavour Foundation and built a unique device incorporating Microsoft’s Kinnect Camera technology. The project attracted $500,000 in funding and was transformed into the market-ready product, Edu Touch Magic Carpet, which was licensed to Eduss Education Ltd in 2013.

Noted for his involvement in interactive development and machine vision, Kevin then turned his expertise to CAPTCHA — often regarded as the Internet’s impossible problem. Today, FunCaptcha has transformed the irritating chore of comprehension into an SLA-guaranteed visual activity that stops automation for brands like Electronic Arts, Kik, and StubHub. Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in Games and Interactive Entertainment from Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

Find Kevin on Twitter.

Find FunCaptcha on Twitter.