One of the downsides of the digital age is having to remember a plethora of passwords and PINs… it’s a big of a drag, isn’t it?

For every computer login, smart phone, email or web account, and social media profile we have, there comes with it the inevitable combination of letters and numbers needed to unlock them.

They’re completely necessary of course but a bit of a pain especially if, like me, your mind goes blank sometimes. I’ve completely forgotten my PIN on several occasions and, with having to change passwords regularly for work purposes, it’s tricky trying to keep track of what your memorable word/digit combination is.

I suspect I’m not alone in sticking to one or two passwords across a number of logins and accounts which I know is wrong but a bit more manageable than trying to memorise dozens of passwords and then remember which one is for which account.

I’m also guilty of using a password that is memorable rather than of sufficient ‘strength’, ie the appropriate amount of letters and numbers variety to make it hard to crack.

This doesn’t matter so much if it’s your login to something inconsequential, but with so many of us banking and buying online now, there are real issues about being hacked. Someone I know has had their Yahoo email account hacked twice in the last month and could potentially have their personal and financial details compromised as a result.

Recognising that many people have problems remembering all their passwords, tech companies have come up with some novel (or perhaps downright strange) ideas to get round this.

It’s come to light recently that Google has filed a patent that suggests users stick out their tongue or wriggle their nose to log in to their devices. They reckon this might prove more secure than the existing Face Unlock facilities on Android phones or tablets which can be fooled by a photo.

The patent was filed a year ago but has only recently been published and it suggests software that could trace a “facial landmark” to verify a user.

Their suggested ‘facial landmarks’ include:

  • A frown
  • A tongue protrusion
  • An open-mouthed smile
  • A forehead wrinkle
  • An eyebrow movement.

So basically, you might have to gurn to unlock your phone in the future. Imagine on a busy morning train seeing a carriage full of commuters winking, sticking their tongues out and pulling faces… It’s like something out of a Monty Python sketch.

The patent also suggests the software might need to track facial movement and angle to be sure that the device wasn’t being show a photo of a person with a fake gesture animated over the top. I keep thinking of Ben Stiller doing his ‘Blue Steel’ pose in Zoolander.

Last year Google introduced measures to ensure users were ‘live’ by getting them to blink at their device in order to prevent its facial recognition programme being hoodwinked by a photograph. It’s now proposing a combination of gestures requested at random which it reckons would eradicate the problem. So, whenever you log onto your device it’ll look like you have an elaborate facial tic. What a palaver!

With all these faffing around, it seems facial recognition technology for phones and tablets might be a little way off yet.

But things get even stranger. Motorola is looking at the possibility of an ‘electronic tattoo’ that is attached to your skin and can be used to verify your identity by your device or gadget.

Another idea Motorola are toying with is a ‘password pill’ which you swallow and transmits a signal to your device, triggered by your stomach acids. So you’ll need a pill to use your tablet. What an extraordinary idea.

Given all those alternatives, I’m happy struggling to remember my many passwords and PINs for the time being! 

Until next time