Motorola proposes pills, tattoos as the future of passwords

Passwords can be troublesome to remember, there’s no arguing it. But what lengths would you go to in order to keep your password secure but easily accessible?

One Motorola executive is proposing some interesting technology you’d keep on or in your body: an electronic tattoo, and a one-time pill.

Motorola’s head of its Advanced Technology and Projects group, Regina Dugan (who is also the former head of DARPA), shared her thoughts on innovation in the mobile industry at this week’s D11 Conference. In particular, Dugan’s problem was with passwords:

“After 40 years of advances in computation, we’re still authenticating basically the same way we did years ago. In fact, it’s gotten worse. Because now you don’t do it once a day, or twice a day. The average user does it 39 times a day and it takes them 2.3 seconds every time they do it. Power users will do it up to 100 times a day.”

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So instead of having to enter in your PIN on your phone yet again, or drawing your passcode pattern on your Android device, Dugan thinks we should entertain new options. While there are more conventionally options like key fobs equipped with NFC or Bluetooth devices, Dugan says she’s more interested in wearable technology.

And she’s not talking about Google Glass, despite the fact Google now owns Motorola. Dugan modeled a ‘tattoo’ (more of a sticker, really) equipped with antennas and sensors that would unlock the phone when in close proximity. While Dugan’s model was pretty basic, she said that as they develop, they could have designs, which would make them more enticing for teens and twenty-somethings who would be loathe to wear a watch, but much more interested in a tattoo “even if it were to just piss off their parents.”

Another unconventional password solution Dugan proposed was “vitamin authentication,” which would have you swallow a pill each morning that would grant you access to your mobile device. She explained that it’s basically an “inside-out potato battery;” your stomach acids act as the electrolyte in the battery. It creates a low-power ECG signal in your body, essentially turning your body into an authentication device. Dugan says that the pill does work, and has been approved as safe for human consumption, although you shouldn’t expect to see it available on the market any time soon.

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You can watch the full interview with Dugan and Motorola head Dennis Woodside at D11 here.

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