Back in 2013, Regina Dugan, the former DARPA head, and leading special projects for the Google-owned Motorola, showed electronic tattoos as one password authentication sign of the future.
The idea of a password authentication tool in the form of a wearable tattoo was quite novel but welcomed by a wider audience of techies and mobile phone users looking forward to better, more reliable and easier ways of logging into mobile devices. The idea this week has ripened considerably with Thursday's introduction by VivaLnk, a Santa Clara, California-based company, of Digital Tattoo, developed with Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. (The Verge commented Thursday that "some of the most amazing projects at Google are coming out of its Advanced Technologies and Products group, a team led by ex-DARPA director Regina Dugan.")
Worn on the wrist, the tattoo is used to unlock the smartphone user's Moto X. The product is a disposable that can last for five days. The lifetime is approximately five days but may vary with skin type and activity level. Then the tattoo is replaced with another. The company described the item as a nickel-sized, thin adhesive device; they are using medical-grade adhesives from 3M, blending in on the wrist.
The idea is to set up Moto X and the tattoo. The company site has a FAQ list that has a number of helpful guidelines for doing this, aiming for a spot about two inches up from the wrist. As for the sync, according to the announcement, "Simply tap the back of Moto X to your Digital Tattoo and follow the onscreen instructions. For the first activation, you will be prompted to re-enter your existing PIN and to set a master PIN. For the remaining activations of the same tattoo you pair the tattoo and tap to activate."
"VivaLnk's technology, it added, "has made it possible for us to create thin, flexible electronics that are adhesive, inexpensive, and disposable."
Digital Tattoo designed to communicate with a phone is an application of the company's eSkin wearable technology but it is the first commercialized product of its kind. According to the company the VivaLnk team is looking to expand to other devices and future versions of Android. Also, VivaLnk anticipates other products utilizing eSkin technology in health care, security, entertainment, and numerous other fields..
VivaLnk has begun selling Digital Tattoo packs through its website, for $9.99. VivaLnk noted that "A Digital Tattoo pack includes 10 tattoos—about a month's supply. Each will sync to your Moto X's NFC unlock."