Under the Obama administration, 130 wunderkinds and brainiacs alike have gathered at the White House Science Fair every year to show off their scientific inventions. One of those students is a Northborough teen who made a security app for smartphones.

Like many of us, Yasha Makaram thinks passwords are a drag. So she came up with a different solution.

“I want to make opening your phone easier, so instead of entering a password, you just pick it up and it’ll unlock automatically. Sort of integrate it into the security of the phone.” Makaram said.

It turns out our movements are unique to us, much like our fingerprints. Makaram also drew inspiration from the emerging technology of gait recognition—which identifies a person by the way he walks.

A person moves the same way all the time, and different people never move the same way.” Makaram said.

While most 17-year olds are obsessed with their phones for taking selfies and texting, Yasha is using sensors and her smartphone’s accelerometer to collect data to create a memory bank of her arm’s motions.

“The next time I pick it up, it’ll know it’s me, and if someone else picks it up, it knows it’s not me by comparing it to this bank.” Makaram said.

Makaram tested out her app by having eight other people lift her phone. Some tried to mimic her movements—but with no luck.

It could be that you are trying to copy me- or it could just be you’re picking it up however, but either way, you wouldn’t get through it.” Makaram said.

This biometric technology has wide-reaching potential for all kinds of security measures, including gun safety.  And that’s what earned her a trip to the White House science fair this spring—and a handshake from the president.

It was very cool.” Yasha said. “He came by and shook all our hands. And I’m short so I got to be right next to him. He put his arm around me.”

Makaram will be attending MIT in the fall—and her former computer science teacher Angela Taricco at the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science in Worcester, isn’t at all surprised by Yasha’s achievements.

She definitely worked her way and deserved it and I was very happy to hear she was going.” Taricco said.

An app fair was underway at the academy on this day—, and there were some impressive apps—and these kids are only juniors. The Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science’s curriculum is project-based—much like its partner, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which means these students hit the ground running—and that’s the point.

They learn the necessary skills as they’re solving a problem. They need to do some research, like, ‘what are my competitors out there’ and ‘I don’t want to develop something exactly the same, but how can I make it better?’ The problems are real. The problems are theirs. They own the problems because they are out their trying to find a solution.”

One app at a time—hopefully with fewer passwords.