A new chip and PIN security device capable of protecting cardholders from "shoulder surfing" thieves at the cash till is being piloted by UK health and beauty retailer Boots.
Researchers at Warwick University originally designed the device, which features a specially-designed magnifying lens, to help visually impaired customers see the keys on a chip and PIN terminal.
But the device is now being marketed to retailers and banks after it was realised that only the customer directly in front of the lens could view the keypad clearly. The lens distorts the view of the keypad from any other angle and so allows PINs to be protected from shoulder surfing criminals or CCTV and hidden cameras.
The requirement for UK cardholders to input PINs at the retailer check-out has prompted claims that the national Chip and PIN system is exposing customers to fraud by creating more entry-points where PIN inputs can be viewed or recorded.
Boots has agreed to pilot 35 of the so-called 'cradles' in one of its main city centre stores. Clive Barber of Boots Operations says: "The additional security provided by the unit may provide a useful benefit to all our customers."
Neil Radford, an enterprise fellow at the University of Warwick, who designed the cradle has now established a company, Secure Access Solutions Limited, to market the device to retailers.
Says Radford: "The PED Cradle delivers that extra layer of security and improved accessibility in one simple easy to use device. We are delighted that three years of careful and detailed research and product development has won support and interest from the manufacturers of chip and Pin terminals, retailers and banks."