Motorola Wants to Use Tattoos, Pills Instead of Smartphone Passwords
June 2, 2013 10:46 PM
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But will consumers want to use them?
and using tattoos (and even pills) for identification instead.
Motorola is looking to do this with its future devices, and has even started testing the tattoos and pills.
Motorola's tattoos have already been developed by MC10, a Massachusetts-based engineering firm. They are placed on the smartphone owner's skin using a rubber stamp, and contain flexible electronic circuits.
Instead of punching in passwords, users just place their smartphones close to their tattoos for verification.
Dennis Woodside, Motorola’s chief executive, showed off the tattoo technology at the 11th All Things D conference (D11).
Motorola is looking to use pills as password replacements as well. They're called Proteus Digital Health pills, and they've already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Users would take a pill by mouth, and the pill would create an individual signal that would be picked up by their smartphone. The computer chip within the pill would be powered by a battery using the user’s stomach acid.
The pill could be taken daily for up to a month.
According to Woodside, the tattoos and pills work, but they won't be sold anytime soon.
While the idea of using tattoos and pills as verification is interesting, it may be too uncomfortable for everyday use. For instance, people may not want to have a visible tattoo on their arms at all times, or may not want to worry about forgetting to take it off and on.
As for the pill, consumers may think it's too weird to have signals transmitted from their stomachs. It's also a nuisance to remember to take a pill each day in order to access their phone.
However, Regina Dugan, Motorola's senior vice president of advance research (who demonstrated the tattoo at D11), said there are great benefits to the tattoos and pills.
“Authentication is irritating," said Dugan. "In fact its so irritating only about half the people do it, despite the fact there is a lot of information about you on your smartphone, which makes you far more prone to identity theft.
“Having the boldness to think differently about problems that everybody has every day is really important for Motorola now.”
Motorola has certainly been trying to make a comeback after taking a hard fall recently. Google
acquired Motorola Mobility
in 2011 for $12.5 billion USD, but it has proved to be a bit of a nuisance for Google -- it only made $1.02 billion for the first quarter of 2013, down from $1.51 billion in the fourth quarter. It also reported an operating loss of $271 million.
Aside from that, Google announced an
additional 10 percent reduction in the Motorola workforce
this past March (about 1,600 employees) after already cutting 20 percent last summer. That cut affected about 4,000 employees.
Motorola Mobility has also had some other issues lately, such as an
from the European Union for seeking injunctions to block Apple's use of certain patents. Motorola was slapped with this complaint earlier this month.
However, Motorola is making new moves in the mobile marketplace with its upcoming U.S.-made
Moto X smartphone
. It will be built in a Texas facility that plans to have 2,000 new employees by August, and its edge will be its ultra-low power sensors that are better at managing and conserving power than Apple and Samsung's devices.
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RE: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should . . .
6/4/2013 11:24:58 AM
These things they're talking about aren't even biometrics...they're NFC or maybe RFID or something like that.
The tattoo isn't really a tattoo...it's a sticker with an NFC/RFID kind of thing in it. Big whoop.
You could accomplish the same thing less intrusively with a keyfob, or a pen you carried around...or whatever. Obviously the point of swallowing/sticking it on your body is so that you don't lose it.
But imagine going to the bathroom and then realizing your phone doesn't work anymore, because you just flushed your authentication device down the toilet.
You are correct in that a real biometric reading would be vastly preferable to these kinds of ridiculous contraptions. Buttloads of laptops are already in the wild with fingerprint readers - how hard would it be to put one of those on a phone?
On the flipside, unless you're carrying around state secrets on your cellphone, I would imagine that traditional security measures (like a simple password) are just fine. After all, if someone physically gets your phone, they can always rip it apart and read the memory anyway.
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