Google Dreams of Passwords That You Wear and Swallow


If you thought Google Glass took the whole “wearable tech” thing a little too far, you don’t even want to know what other tricks the champion of Internet innovation has up its sleeve. Let’s just say you can forget two-step verification. In the future, you’ll be your own walking password.

That’s right, folks. From passwords tattooed on your skin to an ingestible password pill, Google could one day take authentication to a whole new, Big Brother-y level.

Regina Dugan, special projects leader for Google-owned Motorola, told the audience at this year’s D11 Conference in Rancho Palo Verdes, Calif., that she is very excited about the company’s future in the field of wearable computers.

Dugan, who used to be the head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), brings a true fondness for big ideas to her job at Motorola.

But whether the ideas that Dugan and her team are working on are epically cool or epically weird is really for you, the user, to decide.

Right now, Motorola is developing an electronic tattoo for user authentication. The tattoos, which are made by tech startup MC10, were originally designed as medical devices, but Dugan’s team is repurposing them as wearable passwords.

The tattoos feature stretchable electric circuits that communicate directly with an external server. The BioStamp, as MC10 calls its product, can be worn for two weeks and holds up to all manner of stretching, bending and flexing.

But in case the tattoo idea doesn’t pan out, Motorola is also working on another alternative to traditional authentication systems: ingestible password pills.

This “vitamin authentication” system involves ingesting a pill that, once in the belly, can be battery-powered with stomach acid to produce an 18-bit internal signal. So in just a few moments, the pill swallower physically becomes his or her own walking password.

Of course, you shouldn’t expect to be confronted with these bizarre authentication procedures in the near future.

“This isn’t stuff that is going to ship anytime soon,” said Dennis Woodside, CEO of Motorola. “But it is a sign of the new boldness inside Motorola.”



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