Are You a Human raises $750K to kill CAPTCHA

Ronny Kerr · July 26, 2011 · Short URL:

Replaces hard-to-read text with puzzle games to thwart Web bots

Prove that you’re not a robot by typing the word pictured here, and you’ll be on your way. Oh, but if it were so easy! Even humans have a hard time with CAPTCHA, which is why this startup is pursuing a better way.

Human authentication service Are You a Human (“AYAH”) announced Tuesday that it has raised $750,000 in Series A funding led by Detroit Venture Partners with participation from the First Step Fund, itself a partnership of the Invest Detroit Foundation, TechTown, Ann Arbor SPARK and Automation Alley. This also marks the sixth investment by the Ross School of Business’ Frankel Commercialization Fund.

(By the way, that’s the same Detroit Venture Partners that last week added Earvin “Magic” Johnson as one of its general partners.)

Currently, most of the Web uses CAPTCHA (the Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). If you’ve ever registered for an account or bought tickets online or accomplished any number of Web tasks, you’ve probably experienced the fun game of proving that you’re a human. Usually it involves viewing (or listening to) some distorted words and being asked to transcribe those words.

Are You a Human thinks its product is “the next generation of online human verification tools” and could offer “a number of improvements on the current mode of verification,” CAPTCHA. It’s not a trivial problem, as most websites depend on keeping bots out in order to limit the amount of spam traveling through their system.

On the other hand, the verification product must not be so complicated that humans get frustrated and give up.

Where CAPTCHA is getting harder and harder to read, as bots get better and better at transcribing distorted text, AYAH offers extremely simple but dynamic puzzle games that any human could solve in a matter of seconds. It's a novel approach to an old problem.

Check out AYAH’s team, made up of Jim Collins and Tyler Paxton, deliver an elevator pitch over at Wake Forest University’s elevator competition site.

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