Look out, Frodo we might have a new “One Ring to rule them all.”
Token, a new smart ring, promises to give its wearers a chance to make mobile payments, unlock doors, and ditch their passwords all while protecting their identity with an extra level of security.
The wearable uses the same type of near field communication (NFC) technology found in credit cards and hotel keys to make purchases, and Bluetooth along with a wake gesture, like knocking to log into computers, lock car doors and more.
We’ve been promised wearable instant purchasing functionality before, from Kickstarter-backed products that still haven’t fulfilled their potential, but Token’s makers say the ring does more than just put payment power on your finger. The focus here is on security, with the ring providing two forms of authentication to verify your identity, rather than just another fancy physical extension of your credit card.
Token’s founders dropped by Mashable HQ to show off the system, giving us a first hand look at how the two-factor system works.
“We wanted to build something that makes you more secure, but we’ve realized that most consumers won’t do anything if it makes their lives more inconvenient,” said Token cofounder and CEO Melanie Shapiro during the visit. “We’re offering a two-factor authentication process that’s easier than some already ingrained behaviors, like pulling out your credit card.”
The first factor comes via biometric reading, in this case a fingerprint scan via a sensor on the inside of the ring. Token has a sensor inside that identifies when you’re wearing it after activation. Once you take it off, the ring shuts down until you wake it back up with another scan.
The second form of ID comes when you put the ring within range of an NFC reader or perform the wake motion around a Bluetooth enabled device, like a computer. The coolest use we saw during the in-office demo was when cofounder Steve Shapiro logged into his MacBook, just by knocking twice on the table next to it.
He also showed off the rings ability to unlock one of Token’s custom-made deadbolts the company elected to make their own door locks because they thing other bluetooth locks on the market “aren’t dependable” and an HID security pad.
Token comes onto the market with a full slate of partners, like MasterCard and Visa for payments, physical authenticator HID, and Microsoft and the FIDO Alliance for online verification. The partnership with Microsoft is to bolster the effort to eliminate the need for passwords from our day-to-day lives.
“We’re offering a two-factor authentication process that’s easier than some already ingrained behaviors, like pulling out your credit card.”
“Passwords no matter how long, complex, or frequently changed are inherently insecure, and yet we use them every day to verify our identities,” said Windows Client Security Senior Product Manager Chris Hallum in a statement about Token. “Microsoft designed Windows Hello to enable all of our customers to move to a password alternative that is secure from the modern threats and were thrilled to work with Token to make the Windows Hello experience even better.”
They’re also working together on the Web Authentication API, a new framework for greater flexibility and fewer passwords for verification on the internet. The could be used in the future to allow the ring to log you in everywhere online, no password required.
The ring can also be used for instant access to public transit systems, letting users skip out on card swipes to pass through turnstiles. Token’s founders told us it works now with more than 40 transit systems around the world, with another 20 on the way in 2018.
Token’s instant two factor authentication won’t come cheap. The most basic ring style, brushed silver (there are also Black Rhodium and Rose Gold options) will set you back $249, and you’ll have to pay an extra $100 for either a deadbolt or car plug to go along with it. A package with all three costs $399.
The wearable is a step forward in the effort to streamline the ways to prove who we are IRL and online but it’s an expensive one for those of us who don’t mind keeping track of a running list of passwords and sets of keys. If the steep starting price doesn’t scare you away, though, you can order Token starting today.