Google bought SlickLogin, an Israel-based startup that develops alternatives to passwords, including a sound-based authentication technology.
Founded by three security experts that used to work for the Israeli military, SlickLogin is a small and young company – the startup launched its service in beta just five months ago, and its site’s About section only lists the three founders as team members.
The startup announced it’s joining Google on its website:
The SlickLogin team is joining Google, a company that shares our core beliefs that logging in should be easy instead of frustrating, and authentication should be effective without getting in the way. Google was the first company to offer 2-step verification to everyone, for free - and they're working on some great ideas that will make the internet safer for everyone. We couldn`t be more excited to join their efforts
Google confirmed the news to TechCrunch.
SlickLogin was working on ways to replace passwords with other forms of authentication, such as those based on NFC, Wi-Fi, QR codes and GPS. However, the most exotic technology that the startup was working on was sound-based authentication.
Explained simply, a website generates a unique, almost inaudible sound that’s played through a computer’s speakers. To authenticate, the user opens an app on their smartphone, which listens for the sound and then sends over the authentication confirmation to the website. If that sounds complicated, consider that it’s very similar to current methods, such as Google’s SMS-based or app-based authentication methods. Instead of receiving a code via text message and having to input that code on a website by hand, this technology does all the work for you, using sounds. Moreover, SlickLogin’s tech could potentially replace the tokens we all use to log into our bank accounts or other secure systems.
Here’s how SlickLogin introduced itself on stage at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF 2013 Battlefield event in September 2013.
Google has long sought ways to replace passwords with technologies that are more secure and more intuitive. The company explored everything from NFC-based tokens to biometrics, and has joined the FIDO Alliance, a group of companies that develops password alternatives.
Details on the deal are scarce for now. This looks to be an acquihire, but it’s possible that Google will one day embed SlickLogin’s tech in its own authentication methods, either as a full-on password replacement or, more probably, as a secondary factor along passwords.