Recognition Memory · Valt - Making Passwords Painless

Recognition Memory

Take a quick look at the six images below.

Now go back and imagine a single word description for each one. Really, do it. Let me guess, Dancer, Wedding, Sunflower, Owls, Camera, Street. Okay, five out of six ain’t bad.

At Valt, we know that humans are extraordinarily good at recognizing images they’ve seen before. In fact, this is one reason Valt is so secure. We generate a random text-based password for you and then translate that password into a set of images. Then we train you on those images using techniques from Psychology and Cognitive Science. Finally, we place your images in a grid of other images. Choosing your images allows us to translate your selections back into your random password. We take a task that’s hard for humans (remembering random text) and make it an easy one (remember some memorable photos).

How it works

Here’s a simple example. Take a look at the grid of images below. There are 6 rows. Each row has 10 images, one of which is an image from above. Now, without looking back, try to identify the six images you described above in the six rows below.

Did you do it? Not bad, right? And the next time you try it will be even easier.

Now, any chance you know the first six digits of Pi? Don’t worry if you don’t. Only 19% of people in one survey could come up with 3.14159 when asked. But take a look at the grid again and, moving from the first row to the sixth rows, note the column in which each image appears.

Yeah, you guessed it. The images are in columns corresponding to the first six digits of Pi.

A grid like this can actually represent any six digit number — you just need to train yourself on the appropriate images. For example, you could use a new grid to remember my grandfather’s birthday (12/18/26) by training on the appropriate images. Valt uses a slightly different way of encoding information because our grids have 15 images and three of them are yours, but the basic idea is similar.

There’s a key aspect to the grid that’s crucial to security. It doesn’t tell you anything about which six digits it represents because only you know which images are yours. The grid is similar to a keyboard. Just like your text-based password is some combination of keys, your Valt password is some combination of images. It’s just that you’re exceptionally good at remembering a random set of memorable images and terrible at remembering a random string of characters.

And remember, because only you know your images, your information is safe and secure, so get a Valt today!