We’re still nowhere close to solving the password conundrum. Software solutions, such as password managers, have attempted to solve it by managing and encrypting all of your passwords with a master key. That’s convenient but, like all software, it isn’t a perfect solution but maybe hardware can help.
Mooltipass is a hardware gadget that physically stores your passwords. The Swiss startup has raised over $75,000 on its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to build its new iteration, the Mooltipass Mini, a palm-sized device that should make carrying your passwords even easier.
The Mooltipass Mini connects to your computer or smartphone and stores your passwords using a PIN-protected smart card. When you get started, the Mooltipass browser extension or smartphone app asks you to enter your password for each account, which it then saves. It also acts as a USB keyboard for adding in passwords manually. After that you’ll only need to log in by connecting the device and hitting its login button. In theory, it cuts out the need to remember and enter passwords each time you login into a site.
The smart card that stores your authentication data is encrypted with AES-256 encryption, meaning multiple cards can be used with the device.
So far Mooltipass only has a Chrome extension, which will generate lengthy and tough passwords for you before saving them to your device. So while the device itself can be used with any OS, you still need to be a Chrome user. If you’re not a Chrome user, the startup says its currently developing and testing a Firefox version.
The successful crowdfunding campaign shows the prototype of the new Mini device and a number of test users have copies. The new funds will be used to advance the development of the device and make it commercially available. It will cost around $70, and has a planned January release.
For now, the appeal of the device is somewhat constrained by its Chrome limitation. It’s kind of reminiscent of Vaulteq, another physical password manager that’s trying to eradicate the password problem with a mini server that connects to your home router. Mooltipass on the other hand is designed for portability, which is a big plus.
Both devices have had successful crowdfunding campaigns. Whether physical password solutions will gain traction beyond the most security-conscious consumers, who have put down their money, remains to be seen.