Here's why emojis are better than numerical-based PINs

By Shawn Knight · 11 replies
Jun 15, 2015
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  1. emoji passwords pin number emojis passcodes

    Emojis have long since replaced the simple colon + parentheses digital smiley face. The popular visuals, whose translation literally means “picture character,” originated in Japan and since taken the world by storm.

    Their use, however, could become a lot more widespread if a new implementation from Intelligent Environments catches on.

    The UK firm, known for making digital banking software, has launched the world’s first emoji-only passcode. Non-millennials are probably rolling their eyes at the thought but hear it out as it makes a lot of sense.

    For starters, four-character emoji passwords are much more secure than the traditional four-digit PIN. In its press release, Intelligent Environments notes that there are 480 times more permutations using emojis over traditional four-digit passcodes. What’s more, emoji use will prevent careless users from relying on easy-to-guess numerical passcodes like a birth date or a wedding anniversary.

    Research shows humans have an easier time remembering pictures versus digits or words. This could lead to fewer forgotten passcodes, something we can all get behind.

    As memory expert Tony Buzan points out, remembering pictures is anchored in our evolutionary history (remember hieroglyphics?). We remember more information when it’s in pictorial form which is why the emoji passcode is better than traditional PINs.

    It’s clear that emojis may not be the end-all solution to replacing passwords but the idea certainly seems a bit more robust than traditional numerical-based passcodes.

    Do you think emoji passcodes will catch on? Would you be willing to swap your numerical PIN for a character-based solution? Let us know in the comments section below.

    Permalink to story.

  2. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,471   +375

    I'll do it if I can actually use hieroglyphics. =p
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,876   +1,297

    It wouldn't be any easier to remember multiple emojii logins than it would be to remember alphanumeric ones - harder, actually, with all those possible combinations. I guess its fine if this becomes an option but I can't imagine many people relying on it. Its also very doubtful that security would be increased much because people would undoubtedly use emojii that are commonly related to whatever that password grants access to (guns for gaming sites, sad faces or money icons for banking, etc).
  4. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,043   +679

    Would you be willing to swap your numerical PIN for a character-based solution?

  5. Aren't emojis just emoticons?
  6. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Posts: 684   +253

    Agreed, you could say that letters are heiroglypics are just pictures as well, only they are mostly in black and white. This is such a disasterous alternative to regular passwords, I can't even begin to describe it.

    "480 times more permutations using emojis over traditional four-digit passcodes."

    ??? Is there an international standard emohi picture set that we have all agreed upon? 480 more permutations at this given moment, given a specific emohi picture set. But does anybody seriously think that if these "picture characters" are all the rage that the set won't keep growing, and growing, and growing?

    If people want to use a series of pictures as passwords that's okay but why do they think its any better than alpha-numeric passwords? People will forget picture sequences just like they do alpha-numeric sequences.
  7. Yes, there isn't an international standard, so we would have to remember every emoji pin visually

    it's also hard to save hints for pins

    I think the worst issue is the fact that it's hard to come out with a good emoji pin -- I think most people would use a few combinations, like ;) ;) ;) :) or something, so the problem with common pins, like 1234 would only get worse

    it's a creative idea, and it's good that people are looking for alternatives for passwords (almost everybody knows nowadays that we have to find something fast) but I don't think this is the one
  8. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,383   +169

    The question is whether people are good at remembering an ordered series of pictures as opposed to just a collection of pictures. I haven't read the related research fully, but I think it didn't address that. A pass phrase on the other hand has a well defined order of words and in turn letters. It's possible to remove the order requirement from the passcode though, and that would have a lot fewer combinations than an ordered list, it would still have a lot more combinations than a 4 digit passcode.
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,167   +986

    numerics = 0-9
    alpha = 26+26 upperCase = 52
    numeric+alpha is 62 or 62*2 is 3844 permutations

    special chars = !@#$%^&*()_-+={}[]\|;:'",<.>/? (30 chars)
    so numbers+alpha+special chars is 82 single character possibilities
    two at a time is 82*2 = 6724 permutations

    and that's in the ascii / utf-8 encoding

    utf-16 for other non-latin languages uses 2-bytes per character and the permutations grow amazingly.
    (82*2 choices becomes 164*2 or 26896 permutations.
  10. RebelFlag

    RebelFlag TS Addict Posts: 147   +78

    No one said there was going to be math. Now I have to nap.
  11. h4expo

    h4expo TS Enthusiast Posts: 46   +7

    This article highlights current phone screen locks which use the 0-9 dial pad for a 4 digit pin. So a 48/4 would be an improvement a 10/4 option.
  12. hitoshianatomi

    hitoshianatomi TS Rookie

    This emoji idea alone will not make so good a solution to the password problem but it could be good as an additional option when expanding the password systems to include images.

    Anyway, it appears that what have been around commercially for more than a dozen years is now being re-invented. Such a story-involved picture password has, for instance, long been a component of Expanded Password System shown at 

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