Google could give the password a fatal wound this year, according to plans that have emerged from the Google I/O developers conference last week. Daniel Kaufman, head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team, revealed that the company aims to replace passwords on Android devices with passive authentication by the end of 2016.
It’s an end goal of Google’s Project Abacus, which was initially launched to find password replacements and has now evolved into an investigation focusing on passive authentication factors such as facial recognition, behavioral biometrics, and metadata like geolocation information. Google’s engineers and researchers are working on a system that would leverage all of that data—collected through a mobile device’s camera, movement sensors, and so on—to produce a Trust Score, which would be used to determine whether a user can be accurately authenticated for particular situations.
Google’s team has already developed a Trust API allowing developers to put such a framework into action, and is reportedly preparing to test it out with partner banks this summer. Given the increasing appetite in financial services for biometric and passive authentication solutions, as well as Google’s huge influence in not only technology but everyday life, these efforts could be momentous in helping to foster a mass shift from passwords to biometrics and related authentication solutions—and much sooner than many would have expected. It could also dramatically help to raise the profile of behavioral biometrics, a new technology that has seen its profile rise quickly over the last several months.