Google Acquires SlickLogin, The Sound-Based Password Alternative

SlickLogin has been acquired by Google, just five months after launching at TechCrunch Disrupt.

Word of the acquisition is confirmed by a notice on the company’s site, where they say that they’ll be joining Google in their efforts to “make the Internet safer for everyone”. We’ve also confirmed this news with Google.

Exact details of the deal are still under wraps. As always, we’re digging for more.

The idea behind SlickLogin was, at the very least, quite novel: to verify a user’s identity and log them in, a website would play a uniquely generated, nearly-silent sound through your computer’s speakers. An app running on your phone would pick up the sound, analyze it, and send the signal back to the site’s server confirming that you are who you say you are — or, at least, someone who has that person’s phone.

Or, to get slightly more wordy… here’s how I put it back when the company first launched:

As a user, you’d go to whatever SlickLogin-enabled site you’d like to log in to. Tap the login button, hold your phone up close to the laptop, and you’re in.

SlickLogin can use a bunch of protocols to start verifying your phone’s position: WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, visual markers like QR codes, and of course, GPS. Their self-dubbed “secret sauce”, though, is their use of uniquely generated sounds intentionally made inaudible to the human ear. Your computer plays the sound through its speakers, while an app on your smartphone uses the device’s built-in microphone to pick up the audio.

The service was built to be used either as a password replacement, or as a secondary, Two-Factor authentication layer on top of a traditional password. The company rolled their product into a small, closed Beta after debuting it at Disrupt, and hadn’t yet opened it up to everyone when they were acquired.

So who are these guys? What about security — if you managed to record someone else’s login sound, could you login as them later? I answered all that and more back when the company first launched, so check out our original article for that.