New CAPTCHA system uses cats instead of phrases

By on April 8, 2012
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The furry gatekeepers of the Internet.

Xtvgly. FvX9kJ. M0pz11qX.

Sound familiar?

These and countless other ‘phrases’ make up the system known as CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It’s a system employed by thousands of web sites to stop bots and spammers for registering or commenting on their sites, and for the most part it’s been successful.

But anyone who’s used this system knows just how frustrating it can be. Is that a T or a 1? Zero or an ‘O’? And how about the times you type the phrase in exactly as it looks and still can’t get it right?

That’s all about to change with a system called ASIRRA (Animal Species Image Recognition for Restricting Access). The system shows users a selection of dog and cat photos and asks them to select all the cat photos. Not only is this much easier to do than trying to decipher hieroglyphics of CAPTCHA, it’s also a lot more fun. The system is powered by over three million photos courtesy of, so it’s not going to be easy for someone to compile a bot that’s capable of recognizing that many kitty photos.

The system is available for free via Microsoft Research, and can be demoed and installed here.


A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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