Your unique heartbeat could offer a secure and easy-to-use alternative to remembering dozens of long, complex passwords, according to Bionym, who launched a new “password wristband” today.
The Nymi has an embedded ECG (electrocardiogram) sensor, which recognises the unique pattern of its user’s heartbeat, and communicates with devices, “completely bypassing passwords and PINS,” its creators claim.
“It was actually observed over 40 years ago that ECGs had unique characteristics,” Bionym chief executive Karl Martin said in an interview with TechHive, adding:
The modern research into practical systems goes back about 10 years or so. What we do is ultimately look for the unique features in the shape of the wave that will also be permanent over time. The big breakthrough was a set of signal-processing and machine-learning algorithms that find those features reliably and to turn them into a biometric template.
The wristband is on sale now for $79, but deliveries will not arrive until early 2014. Bionym is just one of several “biometric” systems in development, such as Fiberio, an in-development touchscreen that reads users fingerprints.
ESET Senior Research Fellow David Harley discusses the advantages of biometric systems in a We Live Security blog post, “The sad fact is, static passwords are a superficially cheap but conceptually unsatisfactory solution to a very difficult problem, especially if they aren’t protected by supplementary techniques. Biometrics and one-time passwords and tokens are much more secure, especially when implemented in hardware as a two-factor authentication measure.”
According to the makers of Nymi, it functions as a three-factor security system: “It requires your personalized Nymi, your unique heartbeat, and a smartphone or device that has been registered to the app. This system allows for complete security without compromising convenience.”
“When it comes to identity, privacy is a chief concern,” said Karl Martin, CEO of Bionym, “The Nymi has been built by the principles of Privacy by Design. This means that each user has complete control over their data and identity. Transparency is very important to Bionym’s culture, and every user has a right to know where their data is going.”
The Nymi will be available for pre‐order on September 3, 2013 for $79, with worldwide shipping at a flat rate of $10 USD. After the first run of 25,000 units is sold out, the price will switch to $99. The first run units will ship in early 2014.