Microsoft testing linking Skype & Aadhaar : what it means for developers
Microsoft has announced that has been working on a pilot to link Skype with the Aadhaar database. I thought this was interesting for the following reasons:
Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India on behalf of the Government of India. It serves as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.
Microsoft have said that it is very enthusiastic and has “embraced the universal ID system”. “We have been pursuing work, initially on a pilot basis, but it will continue to grow, to use that specific technology and integrate it into Skype.” Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith told reporters.
Smith explains how he expects Skype will enable an end-user to authenticate themselves, for instance with a fingerprint or iris scan: “(They) then communicate with someone on the other end, who might for example, work for a government agency and the government agency will know that person is who he or she says they are…The kind of convenience this can bring to people’s lives will be significant. They will not need to travel long distances for many requirements.”.
It’s exciting to see Microsoft experiment with user authentication technologies in this way. Anything they learn during this pilot will be useful and transferable information for Skype for Business. For developers, being able to rely on a trusted authentication platform to identify users will unlock a significant number of interesting projects which are currently either impossible or complicated.
Fields such as medicine and banking rely on user identification being completely trustworthy. Currently this is a problem which needs to be solved on a per-project basis in a custom manner and adds significant time and cost to every solution. If Microsoft are able to integrate technology and provide developers a simple way to authenticate that a user is who they say they are that would be huge. With that sorted, I think we would see many more organisations who have already deployed Skype for Business internally look to extend it to their customers as well using custom development solutions such as online web chat.
I’m pleased to see that Microsoft appear to have noticed that authentication is a blocker to such widespread development and integration projects, and that they are experimenting with solutions. I’m going to be watching to see how this progresses and look forward to some of the learnings from the pilot coming to Skype for Business in the future.