Motorola on authentication: We're talking tattoos and pills

Motorola on authentication: We’re talking tattoos and pills
Credit: MC10

( —Motorola's CEO Dennis Woodside along with the company's senior vice present for advanced technology took to the All Things Digital stage this week to reveal what they think about the future of passwords—namely, authentication by way of arm tattoos and pills. Regina Dugan, senior vice president for advanced technology and projects, first revealed the company's interest in exploring an electronic tattoo for use as a wearable password. This electronic tattoo, behaving as a kind of barcode, works with sensors and antennas able to recognize the user's smartphone. The tattoo concept belongs to MC10, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm. Their tattoos, known as biostamps, were designed to track a person's health; Motorola sees the arm stamps as feasible for use as authentication.

MC10, whose motto is "reshaping electronics," from the outset wanted to provide an alternative to bulky , asking instead, "What if electronics were soft and pliable? What if electronics conformed to us, instead of us conforming to them?" They have been on a course of reshaping electronics into products that bend, stretch, and flex. They developed the arm tattoo for the skin in the form of a patch can be placed on the skin. Motorola intends to work with them on an electronic tattoo for authentication.

Dugan, who formerly was director at the (), is among technology thought leaders who believe it's for thinking up better methods for authentication. She said at the conference that authentication was irritating. "After 40 years of advances in computation, we're still authenticating basically the same way we did years ago."

Yet another idea that captures Motorola's interest, she said, belongs in the category of ingestible : a pill from Redwood City, California based Proteus Digital Health. The latter has developed a way to make a sensor-embedded pill that you can swallow and which is then powered by the acid in your stomach—and Motorola is interested in that pill as a means for authentication. In that concept, the pill creates an 18-bit signal in your body—and your body becomes one walking authentication token. A user would authenticate identity just by touching a phone, computer or car.

Explore further

Google coming out with two new Android phones

© 2013

Citation: Motorola on authentication: We're talking tattoos and pills (2013, June 1) retrieved 17 August 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jun 01, 2013
mark of the beast?

Jun 01, 2013
Absurd idea: A picture of the tattoo and some hi tech snooping makes the "token" a thief's paradise. Same goes for the pill. If the device is easily queried, a suitable set of queries made by a hidden device with a transmitter to an accomplice of the thief gets the current token value. A cell phone call to the thief with the current token value is then used to break in and steal whatever the tattoo/pill carrying person has that is of any value. (Oh yeah, I know there is a few digits the owner adds in the key device, but people loose their PIN numbers all the time to sneaky cameras owned by thieves.)

Jun 01, 2013
Nothing a knife won't steal.

Jun 02, 2013
the only thing wrong with ID cards with pictures and chips is that they don't create and allow for irrevocable slavery

Jun 02, 2013
"mark of the beast?" - VenditardE

Mindless prattle of the Teapublican brain dead.

Jun 02, 2013
It seems to me that to support security and privacy you want a multi-part ID scheme in which one passive component is placed under the skin and one or more additional components are worn on clothing, as a ring, etc.

Without both there is no identification. so a person who elects to not wear their secret decoder ring will not be identified, and will have no transaction privileges.

Jun 02, 2013
Eighteen bits isn't a lot. Some 260,000 unique values. Unlikely they intend it for applications that need strong security. I'm concerned though, that it might end up being used for such.

How do they intend to keep it in the stomach? Make it the size of a ping-pong ball? Urk. Then, how long do the electrodes last? And what happens to it after it wears out?

Jun 02, 2013
Another Hezbollah Progressive country tried this. They tattooed identification marks on Jews.

Just as a general rule, any tool a Hezbollah Progressive gets, they use it against those they don't like.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more