When it comes to user authentication, smartphones play an interesting dual role. Sometimes they’re the devices being unlocked by their proximity to other objects, like how Motorola lets you use its Skip accessory to activate Touchless Control on the Moto X. Sometimes that’s turned on its head, and the phones are the ones acting as the authentication tokens, like with the efforts we’ve seen to use NFC on our phones to control door locks. Today we’re headed down that latter path, as Google seems to be cooking up a system for Chrome OS that will use your smartphone to unlock your computer.
The feature, identified as Easy Unlock, is partially implemented in the Chrome OS sources, but isn’t yet functional. It’s clearly described as a password-free way to unlock a Chromebook using your phone, but the details of just how that would work aren’t yet clear.
Without native NFC support on laptops, something like Bluetooth or WiFi could be a possibility, but maybe we could even see some sort of challenge/response system with QR codes and cameras (though that sounds a bit too inelegant to be likely, and contrary to that “instantly” language Google uses).
One very compelling theory suggests that Google’s recent acquisition of SlickLogin may be involved. The company’s authentication tech is audio-based, which would fit in quite nicely with a very proximity-sensitive system, like we seem to be talking about here.
We’ll have to wait for more code to be completed before we can say for sure just how this works, but it’s something we’ll be keeping an eye on.
Source: Android Police