The Moto X digital 'tattoo': for when entering your passcode is just too hard

23 July 2014

On average, we spend at least 2.3 seconds entering our phone’s passcode every time we go to unlock our device. You might consider this minor inconvenience a small price to pay for having a relatively secure smartphone - but if not, we've got a product just for you.

US company VivaLnk has partnered with Motorola and created a digital ‘tattoo’ that uses the magic of NFC to bypass your phone’s lockscreen and automatically unlock your device, no passcode required.

Although it’s called a tattoo, it’s actually a stick-on, coin-sized patch made of thin, flexible material with an NFC coil. To open a locked handset, simply tap the phone against the tattoo and your device will unlock.

Unfortunately, the stick-on tattoos aren’t permanent. Each sticker will last ‘up to’ five days, but supposedly can resist showers, sports, swimming and sweating during this time.

While you can link up to five devices to each tattoo at a time, currently the product is only compatible with Motorola’s Moto X, although VivaLnk is hopeful that other NFC-enabled smartphones will be added to the list in the near future.

The digital tattoos are sold in packs of 10 for $9.99 USD each – so you’ll have around a month and a half’s supply in each pack.

Skips, rings and apps (and Android L)

It’s not the most economic way of making smartphone security slightly more convenient, nor is it the first. If you do own a Motorola device with NFC capabilities, you may prefer to invest in the Motorola Skip – a wearable smartphone key that works the same way as a digital tattoo, but lasts much longer.

The Skip will cost you $9.99 USD, but also includes several Skip Dots: small, adhesive NFC stickers that can be secured to personal items, such as your wallet or desk, that will unlock your phone with a quick tap.

If you’d prefer something a little more fashion-forward, the Kickstarter-funded NFC Ring will soon start shipping to investors. Each ring is made from high-quality, nickel-free titanium and can be used to unlock NFC-enabled smartphones and even door locks.

The ring is available in vintage, classic and ‘signature’ designs and will set you back £29.99 GBP, but this price includes the NFC unlock smartphone app. The good news is that the NFC Ring is apparently water-resistant and doesn’t require charging.

If NFC isn’t your thing, you may prefer to install Android apps such as Delayed Lock, which can be programmed to switch off your lockscreen altogether for a user-specified period of time. You can also set Delayed Lock to keep your handset unlocked at certain locations (such as your address) or on specific Wifi networks.

Finally, one of the most exciting features of the upcoming Android L release will be Personal Unlocking, which enables your device to skip the lockscreen, if it’s close to other Android devices that are owned and authorised by you – for example, tablets or smartwatches. For more information on Personal Unlocking, we've published a more detailed article here.

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