Google Acquires Sound-Based Log-In Vendor SlickLogin

Google just bought a company that lets users log in to secure accounts with a system that uses sounds with a special app rather than through typed passwords.

Google is bringing SlickLogin into its fold to add the Israeli startup's sound-based log-in authentication services to Google's always-broadening reach in the IT marketplace.

The acquisition was unveiled in a post on SlickLogin's Website by the three founders of the startup.

"Today we're announcing that the SlickLogin team is joining Google, a company that shares our core beliefs that logging in should be easy instead of frustrating, and authentication should be effective without getting in the way," wrote the co-founders, CEO Or Zelig, CTO Eran Galili and Vice President of Research & Development Ori Kabeli. "Google was the first company to offer 2-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."

The system allows users to place their telephone next to their laptops or tablets when logging in to secure sites so that the company's app can "hear" the high-pitched sounds used for authentication and log the user in, according to the SlickLogin Website.

"We started SlickLogin because security measures had become overly complicated and annoying," the site states. "Our friends thought we were insane, but we knew we could do better. So we set out to improve security while still making it simple for people to log in."

The financial terms of the deal were not announced, but the deal is expected to total several million dollars, according to a Feb. 17 story by Reuters about the acquisition.

SlickLogin's use of high-frequency sounds to authenticate user identities "could serve as a replacement to traditional passwords or function as the second step in a two-factor authentication process," according to Reuters.

"Websites that support SlickLogin's technology will play a unique, almost silent tone that can be read by an app on the user's smartphone," Reuters reported. "To confirm your identity, the app analyzes the signal and then confirms your authenticity to the server the site is hosted on. The ultrasonic tone is different each time a user logs in, eliminating the ability to 'steal' someone else's auditory signature."

The acquisition by Google comes on the heels of a string of other purchases the company has made recently. In January, Google acquired Bitspin, the Swiss maker of the free Timely alarm clock app for Android, which is available for free on Google Play. Bitspin allows users to customize many features that they want to use in the alarm clock app, according to the company. One of the most useful features of Timely is that it uses the cloud to back up and synchronize a user's alarms with multiple devices.

The app also features what Bitspin calls "hand-crafted, high quality sounds" and a Smart Rise feature to make waking up by the alarm sounds a pleasant experience. Users can choose the colors of the app as well as its appearance and more, including Google Now integration, recurring alarms, screen animations and adaptive snooze features.

In September 2013, Google bought Bump, which created the Bump app that lets users move files from smartphones to computers and vice versa by "bumping" the spacebar with the device to make the transfer, or by bumping their smartphones together. The company was acquired for a reported $40 million. On Dec. 31, 2013, however, just four months after the Bump acquisition, Bump announced that Google would discontinue its services.

In June 2013, Google made another intriguing mobile app acquisition when it bought Waze, a crowd-based traffic and navigation app for mobile devices. Waze collects and communicates user-generated reports on traffic and navigation information to help drivers ease their commuting stresses. Google paid about $1.3 billion to acquire the Israel-based Waze to add to Google's growing portfolio of popular and revenue-enhancing mapping tools.

Google's discussions with Waze began after previous talks between Waze and Facebook failed to reach a similar agreement. Those discussions came after yet another rumored deal arose in late 2012 when Apple purportedly was about to purchase Waze. At the time, the rumors called for Apple to acquire Waze to bolster its own mapping services, which had suffered after Apple tried to build a Google Maps replacement for its iOS 6 operating system in September 2012.