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With the Nymi wristband, your heart signal is the password

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What if you could unlock your car door or log into Facebook just by standing nearby? There’s a whole range of technologies that will make this possible very soon, from smart locks you can open with a phone app to ingestible biosensors.

Toronto-based Bionym revealed a “Nymi” wristband Tuesday that uses the wearer’s unique heart electrical activity as an authenticator. Paired with a car lock or laptop login screen, it can ensure the wearer is who they say they are and automatically log them in. It can also be used as a payment system at a cash register and to communicate personalized information to connected devices.

“Every time you enter a password or even use a physical key or key card, you’re having to take some sort of action to authenticate your identity. You have to do something, whether it takes a few seconds or several seconds,” Bionym CEO Karl Martin said. “It’s not just about replacing passwords or pins or keys. By putting authentication on the body, we’re creating a nearly frictionless user experience for identity and how you use your identity.”

Nymi is meant to be more secure than a password or key, as only the right heart signal OKs a log-in or unlock. Martin said the company has put safety measures in place to ensure unwanted people can’t get a hold of information.

The wristband will also be gesture compatible.

“The gesture control is essentially an optional input that gives the user a way to indicate what they want to do with their identity,” Martin said. “If you want to unlock the car door, you may want to indicate if you want the front door unlocked versus the trunk.”

Nymi is available for preorder for $79 now and will launch to consumers in early 2014. At that time, Bionym will have partnerships in place with websites and hardware manufacturers. The wristband will be available to developers this fall.

4 Responses to “With the Nymi wristband, your heart signal is the password”

  1. Reblogged this on BenchTime and commented:
    I just read an article on the Nymi wearable from Bionym and am impressed with this tech. I think that biometric security based on unique, dynamic identifiers such as the wearer’s ECG pattern in this case is truly innovative. The fail-safe features such as requiring the device to know when it is being worn vs. when it has been taken off of the authorized user, and a “liveness” requirement (meaning the user has to be alive and assumedly not in cardiac arrest for this to work) eliminate some of the common methods for defeating things like facial recognition, iris scans, and fingerprints (all of which, morbidly enough, can be accomplished without the authorized user being alive and/or retaining possession of the authenticating body part). I haven’t seen how they account for things like pacemakers, exercise, certain cardiac anomalies or conditions, and other factors that could potentially vary one’s ECG pattern, but it’s certainly a technology with vast potential. Definitely will be watching these guys, and would love to be able to test this technology in mHealth and other healthcare settings as an opportunity to integrate with SSO solutions.