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Digital Tattoos' Could Be a Convenient Way to Unlock Your Phone

Digital Tattoos' Could Be a Convenient Way to Unlock Your Phone

"We envision a future where our technology has been adapted to countless applications ... "

One cellular company is pitching a new way to unlock phones without having to touch any buttons. But it means users will have to get a tattoo — kind of.

s Motorola is pitching a digital tattoo as a time-saving solution — but it has to be replaced every five days (Image source: YouTube).

Motorola is pitching a "digital tattoo" as a time-saving and security solution, claiming the average human might waste up to nine hours a year unlocking their phone.

"The average person unlocks their phone 39 times per day. At an average of 2.3 seconds to unlock a device," the company says in a video. "It is so cumbersome that 35 percent of users don't lock their phone."

If you are tired of "wasting" so many precious seconds tapping in a password or swiping your combination, this might be up your alley. But don't get swept up by the hype: The technology is less than revolutionary.

For the tattoo, Motorola employs a technique that is several years old, using NFC tags to create the key components of the system: NFC tags are an application of radio frequency identification technology, but unlike most RFIDs — which make an effort to give a long reading range — NFC deliberately limits this range to within roughly an inch, or even touching the tag. Motorola and Samsung have previously pitched the use of NFC tags for phones through clips to ease the unlocking process.

w Motorola designed a digital tattoo to unlock phones, saying, "You just be you." (Image source: YouTube)

VivaLnk, Motorola's creative partner for the digital tattoo concept, did provide a unique twist: It embedded NFC tags into what is essentially a sticker that can be applied to the skin, much like a Band-Aid, but with an extended life — closer to that of a nicotine patch.

Then, you simply touch your phone to the digital tattoo and — voilà — your phone is unlocked.

"VivaLnk’s breakthrough eSkin technology has made it possible for us to create thin, flexible electronics that are adhesive, inexpensive, and disposable, and can communicate with smartphones and tablets," the company said on its website.

The digital tattoo would be worn by the user for up to five days, and can survive day-to-day activities like showering and working out. But if time-saving is Motorola's big selling point (the company's tag line is "What if unlocking was easy and fast?"), having to replace the tattoo every five days certainly offsets the picture of convenience.

If this has you thinking, "It's only a matter of time before they try to give us all implants," you might not be far off: Motorola's digital tattoo concept was developed in part by Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group. And in the last 10 years, another company, the VeriChip Corporation, which received preliminary approval from the U.S. Food and Drug administration to market its device in 2004, proposed to link heath records and personal information to Google (as well as Microsoft and other corporations).

s CBS covered VeriChip's plan for using implantable chips to share personal information to larger corporations such as Google Health. (Image source: CBS News)

Motorola hasn't announced specific plans to broaden the use of its digital tattoo beyond the simplicity of unlocking phones, but VivaLnk leaves the door open on their site to expanding it's use.

"We envision a future where our technology has been adapted to countless applications, including thousands of yet-to-be-imagined uses in the hands of people around the world," the company said.

The tags Motorola offers for its Moto X phone cost one dollar a piece, and are sold in packs of 10, according to the Daily Dot. Over 365 days, that’s $73. So that's your calculation:  Is it worth spending $73 to save nine hours of entry time in a year?

Check out Motorola's pitch video here:

(H/T: The Daily Dot)


Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

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