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July 25, 2014

Moto X Can Now be Unlocked with a Digital Tattoo

Goodbye, passwords and fingerprint scanners. Now we have digital tattoos to unlock our smartphones. Developed as a joint effort between VivaLnk, a startup company that produces the tattoos, and Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, the functionality is as of now only available for the Moto X by Motorola.

The tattoo is not permanent as the name may imply, but in fact is a nickel-sized strip of adhesive made of thin and flexible materials based on VivaLnk’s eSkin technology. Users can simply swipe their Moto X over the tattoo, which is usually placed on the inside of the forearm, and it instantly unlocks. It sends a unique code using near field communication that cannot be replicated by any other device or tattoo, resulting in an unlock method that is quite secure. It is designed to last for five days and can withstand vigorous physical activity as well as submersion.

A blog post from Motorola states, “an average user takes 2.3 seconds to unlock their phone and does this about 39 times a day,” so it is clear that it would seem convenient for some people who wish to cut that time and effort out altogether without sacrificing security.

However, it is hard to say how this technology is superior to fingerprint scanners. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this product. Many people will probably be turned off by the idea of having a piece of adhesive stuck to their arm all day for comfort and aesthetic reasons. In addition, it is severely limited by only being available for the Moto X, but the companies are working to expand compatibility to other devices.

The tattoos are available in ten packs for $9.99 from Viva Lnk’s website. Assuming a life span of five days for each tattoo, constant usage would cost $70-$80 per year.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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