How many times have the distorted words in a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) confounded you, where you couldn’t distinguish between a ‘b’ and a ‘6’? Developed in the late 1990s, CAPTCHAs distinguishes human from computer input, making sure there’s a real person behind account signups, and not some bot creating thousands of accounts at once for who knows what malicious purpose.

Now, Japan-based startup Capy aims to innovate on this space by introducing a picture-based CAPTCHA system that does away with the need to identify letters and numbers. With Capy’s puzzle CAPTCHA system, users will need to drag a puzzle piece into an image in order for the system to verify that they are human. It’s easy for people to see the hole in the image and drag the puzzle piece to it, but it is very difficult for computers to do so, as it requires image recognition abilities far beyond what’s available today.


Screenshot of Capy’s CAPTCHA puzzle

In addition to being easier to use, Marketing Manager Masa Morishita also notes that Capy’s CAPTCHA system trumps those currently in use. “Optical character recognition (OCR) technology is improving, and it is getting easier for computers to circumvent current text-based CAPTCHA systems,” he says. “Our Capy CAPTCHA system prevents spammer bots and account hijacks.”

Founded in 2012 by CEO Mitsuo Okada and CTO Koki Shimada, Capy was incorporated in the US, but holds most of its business operations in Japan. According to Morishita, the founders secured US$50,000 in seed funding from venture capitalist William H. Saito a month after starting, enabling them to launch a private beta version by end-2012. Subsequently, Capy secured a US$1 million Series A from JAFCO, and has started monetising with a SaaS model, charging around US$0.008 per impression.

Attending Echelon 2014, Morishita notes, has been a fruitful experience. “We got the chance to exchange pointers with startups from Hong Kong, Australia, and other countries in Asia-Pacific,” he says. “We have also met many potential clients and business partners who are interested in the solution we offer as well.”

Morishita shares that in the future, Capy may incorporate features such as package deals for enterprises, offering services such as analytics. “We aim to become a Big Data-oriented security company,” he notes. “We could use user data to analyse transactions, gaining insights and improving our security solution.”