A Smartphone that will self destruct without having to worry about NSA
That dreaded moment where you can’t find your phone. Did you leave it at the library? Did some creep steal it? Are they going through your photos and raiding your debit account? Are they buying all sorts of weird stuff in your name? We’re not there quite yet, but the new technology being developed by Boeing means that, at some point in the near future, you might never have to worry about having your phone stolen again.
The Boeing Black, working on Android OS with encrypted communications, is the company’s first foray into the world of phones, and the idea is a clever one: If someone tries to tamper with your phone, it will self-destruct, deleting all of the data and software contained on the phone’s drive. Some phones may lock up as a security measure, but it’s not hard for a skilled techie to crack into it all the same. By deleting everything and rendering itself unusable, the Boeing Black ensures that nobody will ever see what was on the stolen phone.
The device is aimed at those in the defense and security fields more so than at the average consumer, as it only self-destructs if the casing is tampered with. All the same, the mind reels at the possibilities were this technology to be developed further with the user in mind.
Imagine a phone that can detect when it’s been stolen, and upload all of your data to the cloud before wiping the drive clean. From there it’s a matter of waiting two to six weeks for the replacement to arrive in the mail, automatically, of course.
Obviously, if Boeing ever wants to push this phone on the general public, a few tweaks need to take place:
- A More Sophisticated Definition of “Tampering”
Not everyone who steals a phone is going to try breaking it open, and not everyone who opens the casing is trying to steal it. What if you need to get your phone repaired, but you can’t, because it’s going to brick itself the minute the Geek Squad tries to pop open the case? Phones could use a combination of behavior tracking and authorization to ensure that it’s in the hands of its rightful owner before wiping themselves.
- Data Preservation
As mentioned above, the ideal solution would be to securely upload data to the cloud, or simply keeping a cloud backup in the first place, before wiping it off of the phone itself. Losing hundreds of photos and all your favorite games and songs because a friend took your phone home by mistake doesn’t sound very appealing to the average consumer.
- It Needs to be a Real Phone
As cool as a self-destructing phone sounds, there’s little to suggest that Boeing is interested in competing with the iPhone or the Android. If you can’t play Angry Birds on it, if it doesn’t come with a powerful camera, and if it doesn’t look kind of cool, then it won’t even need to self-destruct because nobody’s going to want to steal it in the first place.
Of course, at this point, it doesn’t look as if Boeing has any interest in appealing to the average consumer. More likely, we’re going to see Boeing exploring consumer-grade smartphones if and when the Black takes off (which it well might, catering to such a strong niche market), or we’re going to see Apple and Google developing similar technology independently.
“A cool gimmick can be just the thing to set your new device apart from the rest,” said technology entrepreneur Jason Hope, “but buyers aren’t rubes, you’ve got to attach that hook to a real product if you want to build lasting shelf life in the market.”
For the moment, Boeing seems disinterested in competing with the iPhone and the Android. If you want to live out your Mission: Impossible daydreams, you can either look into working for the NSA, or you can just wait it out until someone puts similar technology into an iPhone-grade consumer smartphone. For the time being, as perfect as the Boeing Black may be for investigators, security officers, police and military officials, we’ll just have to file self-destructing smartphones under “cool but impractical” when it comes to consumer technology.
About Author: Amy Taylor is a business and technology writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, AZ. She enjoys writing about business technology trends. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking with her Alaskan Malamute, Sam.