WVU Students Help Develop Mobile Security Software

Students use biometric and facial recognition software in consumer application aimed at mobile phone security.

By Samuel Speciale
Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (AP) — It was a typical Friday for West Virginia University engineering students Alex Dunn, Steven Amerman and Walter Ferrell.

At their Kingwood Street home in Morgantown, Ferrell washed dishes in a dimly lit kitchen and Dunn cooked boxed macaroni on the stovetop. While Amerman was down the hall screaming at his opponent in an online League of Legends match, the two complained about a frustrating situation they had gotten themselves into: A roommate, who still owed them $750 in rent, was moving out the next morning and had given no indication of whether he was going to pay up.

Complicating matters further, they weren’t sure they would be able to cover the unexpected expense with their meager student-employee incomes.

Having finished the dishes, Ferrell stirred a packet of grape-flavored drink mix into a pitcher of tap water, sighed and said, “This is what our lives have come to.”

While the three friends deal with the same hardships most college students face, their time at WVU has been anything but typical.

Like many of their peers, Dunn, Amerman and Ferrell balance class and work schedules, but they also are software developers for Confirmix, a Morgantown-based technology startup that has garnered the attention of high-profile investors in both public and private sectors. The company, started earlier this year, has created consumer and enterprise identity authentication technologies that use biometric and facial recognition software.

The company’s work in the business sector has been kept under wraps, but a consumer application called Secure Selfies is currently in early stages of development.
Secure Selfies will use the company’s technology to prevent unauthorized access of mobile phones, tablets and their contents by using the device’s camera to lock and unlock it.

The application has been featured on CNBC’s Tech Crowd, the development team has met with wealthy investors, and while the startup could soon be worth millions, it has roots firmly planted in WVU’s Statler College of Engineering.

It all started in Thirimachos Bourlai’s human and computer interaction class, which Ferrell took as an elective in the fall 2013 semester.