Motorola’s Crazy Idea to Replace Passwords With Pills & Tattoos


Most of us are aware that we shouldn’t use the same password for different accounts, but managing multiple passwords can be a huge pain in the ass. What with email, banks, games, productivity apps, blogs, social media accounts and everything else, most people are far too lazy to go creating different passwords for each one and then trying to remember them. Sure we have password manager tools that can do this for us, but most people don’t even know what they are.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone came up with a simpler way, some kind of system that would automatically recognize you without the need to enter any kind of information at all?

Well, Motorola thinks it can. Apparently seeing itself as some kind of virtual rockstar, the Google-owned mobile phone maker is encouraging everyone to plaster themselves in tattoos and scoff colorful little pills to replace those annoying passwords.

Regina Dugan, formerly of DARPA and now head of Motorola’s special projects division, presented these two totally insane yet ingenious ideas at this week’s All Things D conference. The first of them, the electronic tattoo, wants to be a simple replacement for your passwords. Dugan was wearing one on her forearm at the conference, and explained how it was equipped with sensors and antennas that allow it to recognize certain devices, such as your iPad or your smartphone. Basically what it does is link itself to your device so it can override the password entry requirement, allowing hassle-free entry to your email, Facebook etc etc. For anyone who’s been mulling the idea of a tattoo recently but can’t bring themselves to pull the inky trigger, we’d suggest that Dugan’s stick-on tattoo is a fine compromise.

But that’s not all Dugan had to show us. Her second project is so far out that it’s edging into Dystopian territory – rather than bother with those annoying stick on tattoos, the alternative is to eat what Motorola’s calling an “authentication pill” that does more or less the same thing. According to Dugan, the pill contains a small microchip and switch, which is powered by the electrolytes inside your stomach, creating an 18-bit signal that enters your passwords for you. Dugan argues that because so many people take medication every single day anyway, why not do the same thing for authentication purposes as well?

While we love totally insane concepts like this at SiliconANGLE, it’s not certain if the authentication pill will ever see the light of day. Dugan didn’t say how long the pill might last, but we’d imagine that after around 24 hours or so you’d need to eat another one, which could become annoying – not to mention that if you’re anything like me, you’ll wake up late in the morning and rush off to work without remembering to pop your pill first. And if that doesn’t cause problems for you, the security implications might well do. Dugan failed to mention what might happen if someone steals your pills and eats them, but it’s safe to say that YOU won’t be feeling any better.

Now if they could only make a one-off pill that you never had to eat again, that would certainly have some appeal.