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Brief Published: 7 Jun 2013

Motorola: Password Pill


At last week’s All Things Digital D11 conference in California, US smartphone firm Motorola revealed it is working on a pill that has the ability to turn the whole body into a password.

According to Regina Dugan, head of advanced research at Motorola, the pill would have a small chip inside it with a switch. Acid in the stomach would act as an electrolyte to activate it, triggering an 18-bit ECG-like signal in the body. “Essentially, your entire body becomes an authentication token,” said Dugan.

Developed by Californian digital health company Proteus, the pill has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. However, Motorola said it doesn’t plan to introduce it to the market in the near future.

Motorola also showed an electronic tattoo developed by US-based body tech research firm MC10, which has an antenna and embedded sensors. Motorola said it plans to work with MC10 to develop a tattoo that could provide authentication for a smartphone or laptop.

Passwords are a source of frustration and irritation for many consumers. According to Dugan, the average smartphone user enters their PIN 39 times a day to check their phone, taking an average of 2.3 seconds each time. Motorola hopes that by working on devices such as the tattoo and ingestible pill, the human body could one day become the authentication – providing access to the user’s smartphones, laptops and other devices automatically. Other mobile companies – notably South Korean firm Samsung – are exploring the potential of harnessing brainwaves to create “pass-thoughts”.

Read more about this topic in Tech Body Modification.

Motorola / Proteus / MC10