Google has acquired a small startup called SlickLogin, whose product involves a unique, sound-based system for logging into websites. As reported by TechCrunch, the terms of the acquisition are not yet known. SlickLogin's product had a website create an almost inaudible tone when you tried to log in, you'd then hold up your phone to your computer's speaker and it would verify that it had heard your tone and then send your credentials in. In theory, it would make remembering a password unnecessary, but it could also work well for two-factor authentications — instead of entering in a unique code from your phone, it could just communicate your identity directly.
Google has been experimenting with alternatives to the password for quite some time. Last year, two Google researchers published a research paper detailing how a ring could be tapped to a PC to verify your identity. The company also joined the board of directors of the FIDO Alliance, an industry group which aims to strengthen authentication processes with alternatives like biometrics, USB keys, and NFC.
Google already has a widely-used two-factor authentication app that's used both for its own products and others, and it's not crazy to think that something like SlickLogin could become a part of that. However, as with all startup acquisitions, it's not likely that we'll see its product rushed into production at its new home. In a statement its homepage, SlickLogin said only that "Google was the first company to offer two-step verification to everyone, for free — and they're working on some great ideas that will make the internet safer for everyone. We couldn't be more excited to join their efforts."