Windows Hello Companion Devices to bring Windows 10 authentication to third-party devices

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The days of fingerprint and iris scanning are about to become as dated as lyrics to short-lived rock and rap mashup band Limp Bizkit songs for Windows users. Well, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but its useful to show how quickly Microsoft’s Windows team is evolving the device authentication process.

Today, the Windows team announced that it would be opening up its Windows Hello Companion Device Framework, giving developers the ability to bake in new authentication experiences within Windows 10 utilizing 3rd party devices.

When the Windows team first announced Windows Hello, many saw it as a beefed version of what Microsoft has been doing for more than a decade with fingerprint scanning. Windows Hello represented the advancements in technology to better refine fingerprint scanning, while also opening up the door for OEMs to add other layers of authentications such as using Iris or retinal scanning on devices. What few may have seen coming was Windows Hello’s extensibility as a platform for expanding authentication from device to device.

With the Windows team opening up its Windows Hello Companion Device Framework, developers and device manufacturers can look forward to integrating authentication experiences right into their wares such as:

  • Attach their companion device to PC via USB, touch the button on the companion device, and automatically unlock their PC.
  • Carry a phone in their pocket that is already paired with PC over Bluetooth. Upon hitting the spacebar on their PC, their phone receives a notification. Approve it and the PC simply unlocks.
  • Tap their companion device to an NFC reader to quickly unlock their PC.
  • Wear a fitness band that has already authenticated the wearer. Upon approaching PC, and by performing a special gesture (like clapping), the PC unlocks.

The specific date when OEM partners and device manufacturers will get their hands on the framework has not been detailed yet. However, the Windows team claims such access will come soon, and then users could be able to login to their devices with the use of a variety of devices such as NFC-enabled rings, handset devices, accompanying HoloLens headsets, fitness trackers, or more.