PayPal's latest idea: edible passwords


PayPal's global head of developer evangelism, Jonathan Leblanc, reckons that passwords and even fingerprint scans should be replaced with heartbeat and vein recognition.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Leblanc said that it's time to augment the traditional username/password concept. "If there's a weak password you need to harden that with something physical behind it," he said. "We're looking at new techniques"

He named several suggestions of embedded and ingestible devices that could offer "natural body identification". He described thin silicon chips that could be embedded into the skin, with ECG sensors that monitor electrical activity in the heart and communicate it to "wearable computer tattoos".

He also suggested ingestible capsules that live in your belly, powered by stomach acid, that detect glucose levels and other unique internal features. The data could then be encrypted and beamed out to an external receiver.

Leblanc stressed that several of these technologies are a long way away, and that our cultural norms have some catching up to do before they'd be socially acceptable. But he added that PayPal is working with several partners on future ID verification techniques, so that it's equipped to roll them out as soon as the world is ready for them.

PayPal also told us in a statement: "We have no plans to develop injectable or edible verification [passwords]. It's clear that passwords as we know them will evolve and we aim to be at the forefront of those developments."

So, while PayPal is clearly thinking big about the long term, don't expect to be swallowing your words any time soon.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.