DETROIT — Are You a Human, a Detroit-based startup that designs simple games used to verify human interaction on Web sites, today announced its game-based human authentication tool, PlayThru.

Designed to replace distorted text called CAPTCHA as a means of identifying it’s a human interacting with the Web site and not a computer, PlayThru is a free, cloud-based solution and is already deployed on the Web sites of popular business-to-consumer companies such as Quicken Loans and Fathead.

“Fathead is thrilled to have an alternative to traditional CAPTCHAs,” said Joanna Cline, CMO at Fathead. “We want to present our customers with simple, engaging solutions, and PlayThru eliminates the frustration customers often experience with CAPTCHAs.”

CAPTCHA security challenges, predominantly based on the distorted text model, are used to discern humans from automated bot applications and are most commonly found on Web sites that require users to sign up for an account, purchase tickets, participate in online polls or post comments. These images are traditionally difficult to read, and as a result nearly 25 percent of users will leave a Web site rather than complete a CAPTCHA.

As the first game-based CAPTCHA, PlayThru solves the major problems associated with the text model, such as poor user experience, decreased security and reduced conversions. Rather than asking users to decipher difficult-to-read words or phrases, PlayThru invites users to solve a simple game by identifying and interacting with dynamic objects, such as dragging and dropping toppings onto a pizza. Because of the dynamic nature of the game, these puzzles are easy for humans to solve but difficult for a computer. The drag and drop methodology also makes PlayThru a mobile-friendly solution for touch screen smartphones.

“Text-based CAPTCHAs are difficult to decipher and easy to break, which forces them to become increasingly more difficult to solve. This vicious cycle makes it frustrating for users, who many times will give up before following through to a site,” said Reid Tatoris, COO of Are You a Human. “PlayThru combines intuitive puzzles with proprietary algorithms to distinguish human interaction from malicious automated attacks, giving content providers confidence they are dealing with real humans, and giving end users a much more pleasant experience.”

In Are You a Human-sponsored surveys, 98 percent of users preferred PlayThru over traditional text-based CAPTCHAs. And in beta deployments, sites using PlayThru have seen submission rates increase by up to 40 percent over text-based CAPTCHAs.

Are You a Human launched in May 2011 and received initial funding from Detroit Venture Partners, Frankel Fund and First Step Fund.

PlayThru integrates with multiple CMS platforms such as WordPress, Drupal, PHPBB, and vBulletin, as well as libraries for all popular code formats. The solution can be downloaded free at


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