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Google wants to replace passwords with fingerprints and eyeballs

trying out google glass
AP Images/Chris Pizzello
This might be what logging on looks like in the future.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Google Glass is due to receive an update in 2015, and if a Google patent submitted last month is any indication, it could include a new feature to let wearers use their fingerprints, or scans of their eyes, instead of passwords on websites.

In November’s patent application, Google explored ways to replace website passwords with biometric data from a wearable device. In the filing, Google references “head-mounted displays” (HMD) that could scan a wearer’s fingerprints, eyeballs, veins, or even her voice pattern, then use that data to access a website on a computer or mobile device.

While the application doesn’t mention Google Glass or Android Wear by name, it repeatedly mentions “wearables” and the diagrams look a lot like a certain $1,500 head-mounted Google computer.

US Patent and Trademark Office
Looks familiar.

As the application says: “The biometric data may be used to authenticate a user in lieu of a password, e.g., so that a user’s HMD can log the user on to a webpage on their laptop. As such, the biometric data can serve as a replacement for passwords entirely.”

It makes sense that Google would be exploring ways to secure web activity on its devices. Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanning, introduced in iOS 7 on the iPhone 5S, significantly reduced the amount of time it takes to authenticate an app download or unlock an iOS device.

Still unknown is whether this is a feature that Google plans to incorporate more generally into Android, or if it will even be included in the next version of Google Glass. But if Google wants to catch up with Apple’s fingerprint security, this could be a step in the right direction.

Google had not responded to Quartz’s request for comment on its patent filing at the time of publishing. We will update this post if we hear back.

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