updated 10:07 am EDT, Thu August 22, 2013
Detected unfamiliar locations require more stringent security in patent
Google has applied for a patent for a way a smartphone can vary its security, depending on its location. The USPTO filing for "Location-based security system for portable electronic device," filed on September 14th last year outlines how a smartphone can require more stringent authentication in unfamiliar or hazardous areas, and for less security when at home or in a known location.
The accompanying flowchart for the patent, spotted by Engadget, suggests there be three levels of security, namely for unfamiliar, familiar, and highly familiar areas, with the potential to set more convenient security settings in the more familiar surroundings. While the methodology suggests that it is more for the convenience of the user, it could also in theory be used to make the smartphone more secure in areas where security is absolutely paramount, such as in military or government buildings. The system also appears to have a learning component, where it determines area familiarity by nearby successful passcode entry attempts.
A similar yet simpler system is already being offered by the Google-owned Motorola for the Moto X. The Skip consists of a thumb-sized clip that attaches to clothing, and keeps the phone unlocked when it is nearby. It is also supplied with stickers that tell the Moto X where it is, and allows for predefined settings, including security, to be set on the device.