Google testing way to lock phone with your body

23 Mar 2015

It seems Google is testing a new service that will allow Android phone users to have their phone unlocked whenever they are carrying it, but which locks when it believes it’s no longer on them.

While no official roll-out has been announced, some Android device owners have been prompted with a notification and explanation that they can now access a ‘Smart Lock’ feature that can judge whether your phone is on you leaving it unlocked.

According to Android Police, the phone will then lock itself if it believes you’ve put it down on, say, a coffee table so as to prevent someone else from accessing it if you leave it for a period of time.

Of course, the question as to how the phone can identify whether it is the owner or not is seemingly vague with the knowledge that the technology which powers this method of locking is based off monitoring the phone’s accelerometer.

By seeing that there is continuous movement, the phone assumes it’s in the person’s pocket or hand, but supposedly locks itself again if you hand it over to someone else, something which can’t be guaranteed if working solely off the accelerometer.

Many of the devices which have reported its appearance are Google’s own Nexus devices on Android 5.0 or higher.

Proximity technology has been in development for some time now and has been gradually introduced into car technology in particular, with higher-end cars featuring a key that only needs to be in the immediate vicinity or in the car itself to be able to start.

Phone in pocket image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic