Monday, 24 June 2013
The Oz - 24/6 Paranoid about passwords? Just take a pill
A US phone company is working with doctors to perfect a tiny, swallowable device that stores your codes and ID in your stomach. The pill, which has been approved for medical use by the US Food and Drug Administration, can automatically hook up with smartphones and confirm your identity to an array of devices. It is powered by stomach acid to broadcast encrypted details to code readers on phones or even office doors.
The pill is being championed by Regina Dugan, who has been called "America's smartest engineer".
She was the first female director of the US government's spy technology agency Darpa (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) before joining Google's Motorola Mobility division as creative boss last year.
She told a conference last month that Motorola was looking at "ingestibles" as well as "wearables" such as glasses and tattoos to turn the human body into a "wired being".
"People have to authenticate themselves (to machines) on average 39 times a day, or log into their phone 100 times a day, and coming up with hacker-proof passwords has become more insane," said the famously plain-spoken Ms Dugan. "We got to do a lot of epic shit when I was at Darpa, but sorting this out will improve everyone's lives.
"I would take the pill along with my vitamin every morning. It's my first super-power. I want that."
Ms Dugan argues that technology such as the password pill will give people more power over their online lives.
A Motorola source said: "Regina is wearing a tattoo on her lower left arm which has an antenna and sensors embedded in it, broadcasting her security details to her phones. She wants us to program it so the patch can open doors and turn on her car too.
"It's crazy, mad-scientist stuff, blurring the line between man and machine, but it's happening."
The daily pill is based on an ingestible sensor invented by Proteus Digital Health in California five years ago. Made of soluble ingredients, it reads body chemistry and broadcasts data to a medical computer.
Motorola wants to extend the pill's life in the stomach and the range of data it can measure and transmit.
Posted by Geoff Seidner at 3:46 pm