Motorola says tattoo passwords and pills might be the next big thing

Motorola Electronic TatooIt sounds like something straight out of an old science fiction novel. But Motorola says that tattoos providing proof of a user’s identity could one day replace the need for passwords altogether.

According to Motorola’s chief executive Dennis Woodside, the company has been experimenting with the idea for some time. They are also not the first company to do so, as Nokia has previously experimented with  magnetic tattoos that do the same. But readers might be surprised to find that these latest trials have been much more successful than those of the past.

Engineering firm MC10 has already created a working prototype. The result is a highly flexible, silicone based microchip that can be placed into the skin. Ideally, these tattoo passwords could be used for several purposes, including medical tagging. But the tattoos have a wider implication that could potentially connect people with their online profiles, financial accounts and help to reduce the risk of identity fraud.

While all of this sounds incredibly high tech, it isn’t the only unorthodox project into user identification that Motorola has their hand in. They have also created a pill that would have a similar purpose.

The Proteus Digital Health pill has actually been around for three years now. It is a pill that contains a tiny microchip that sends out a signal from within the body. Devices on the outside that have been programmed to pick up on this signal automatically register the user’s identity through the information located on the chip. It even has a battery that runs on stomach acid, a very efficient process that shows the ingenuity of these  products.

While the Proteus Digital Health pill has been approved by both the FDA and various European regulatory agencies, it isn’t yet on the market. The tattoo is also unlikely to become a mainstream product any time soon. But both show the way things are  headed, introducing the idea of technology that actually integrates the human body as part of the hardware.

Already there are dissenters who are claiming password replacing tattoos are dangerous, or just downright creepy. However, this kind of technology has been a theory for a long time, entering into the mainstream consciousness via science fiction decades ago. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to try and develop it.

No matter what camp you’re in, you have to admit that it is fascinating.


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