The 6 craziest ways tech companies are trying to kill off passwords

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Passwords are awful.

They’re a nightmare to remember. Everyone picks easy-to-use passwords. They re-use the same ones over and over again, making them vulnerable to hacking.

It’s no surprise, then, that plenty of companies are working as hard as they can to kill them off for good.

Thanks to its inclusion in many smartphones, everyone is familiar with fingerprint readers by now. But there are plenty of far stranger possibilities for verifying your identity being experimented with — from heart-rate monitors and vein-recognition cameras to a swallowable pill that unlocks all your devices for you.

Here are six of the craziest methods that people have dreamed up to replace passwords….

1. Heartbeat recognition

Did you know that, like fingerprints, no two people's heartbeats are quite alike?

This fact means that you can actually, with the right electrocardiogram sensor (ECG), use someone's heartbeat as a kind of 'signature' to verify their identity. One implementation of this idea is the Nymi Band -- a wearable gadget that monitors the wearer's heartbeat and uses it to authenticate them.

Don't enter a password, just sit down with the band on and your computer opens right up.

2. Vein recognition

Sure, fingerprints are unique. But you know what else is unique? Vein patterns.

In a patent application filed in 2015, Samsung suggests using the pattern of veins on the back of people's hands to identify them instead. A camera mounted in a smartwatch would map out the wearer's veins, and once confirmed as the correct person, they could do everything from buying music to logging into accounts.

But there's another, less exciting possibility that Samsung suggests: Using it to identify people so they can be presented with personalised adverts.

3. Measuring the size of your body parts

A patent granted to Google employees earlier this month takes the idea of selfie-identification to new levels -- by identifying who you are based on the size of your body parts. A depth-sensing camera takes a photo of you, and software then matches what it sees against its records for what you look like.

Do your arms look like they're proportioned correctly to the rest of your body? Is your neck long enough? Congratulations, here's your data.

It's a wild idea, but Google probably isn't going to bake it into Android any time soon.

4. Iris-scanning

Yeah, we're basically living in the future right now.

Iris-scanning is a biometric verification method straight out of sci-fi movies that is slowly becoming a reality.

Your iris -- the colourful bit of your eye that surrounds your pupil -- is unique to you, so it can be used as a method to prove who you are. The ill-fated Samsung Note 7 smartphone had a built-in iris scanner that checked your eyes as an alternative to entering a passcode or swiping your fingerprint.

5. Voice recognition

An increasing number of companies are now using voice recognition software as an alternative way to authenticate their customers. Everyone from the bank HSBC to UK ISP TalkTalk let you login to your account using only your voice.

6. Swallowable, identify-verifying pills

Here's a password alternative that's impossible to forget -- because it's literally inside you.

Motorola, among others, have floated the idea of a swallowable 'pill' device that transmits a unique signal to nearby devices around you and draws its power from stomach acid. If you're nearby your phone or computer, it automatically unlocks -- but it's impossible for a thief to get in.

Unlike iris or fingerprint scanning, they can't even steal a photo or copy of the identification method -- at least, not without resorting to some gruesome methods.

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