We all hate CAPTCHAs, but to some applications they're a necessary evil. Today I wondered if there's a better alternative we just haven't thought of yet. I considered the dilemma: how do you create something that is indecipherable to a computer, but readable to a human?
Then I remembered an email doing the rounds years ago along the lines of:
I cdn'uolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg: the phaonmneel pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rseearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Scuh a cdonition is arppoiatrely cllaed Typoglycemia.
In case you can't read the above:
I couldn't believe that I could actually understand what I was reading: the phenomenal power of the human mind. According to a research team at Cambridge University, it doesn't matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be in the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole. Such a condition is appropriately called Typoglycemia.
This is called Typoglycemia, and although it wasn't actually researched at Cambridge, there is an element of truth in that people find it surprisingly easy to read.
Could Typocaptcha be the future? Read these three questions:
- Wihch anmial is bgeigr - a fox or an eplthneat?
- Waht aianml is siad to nverr freogt?
- Waht tpye of aimnal was Wlat Dsi'enys Dmbuo?
In case you haven't guessed it, the same answer to all three questions - is:
There are millions of possible combinations of questions, but before getting into the 'how', it all boils down to user experience.
Would Typocaptcha result in a better or worse user experience when compared to CAPTCHA?
P.S. I am aware that this would not be very accessible to visually impaired users, much like CAPTCHAs aren't.