Monday, April 07, 2014

Biometric validation, even heart rhythm, could replace passwords with online processing, stopping a lot of identity theft cold

Websites in the future may turn to biometric validation rather than passwords, as a way to protect against hackers and particularly identity theft. 

CNN has a big story here.

Four of these are ear shape, typing speed, facial recognition (in use at some facilities), and walk or gait.  One could add retinal scans to that,  which is coming into use (and is sometimes shown in the movies).  It’s hard to see how walk or typing speed could be unique enough.
But the most curious innovation is to use heart beat or electrocardiography for identification. The CNN story shows a wristwatch, rather light and narrow, from Bionym, with the "Getnymi" website here  for pre-order.  
There is smartphone electrocardiography, but I’m amazed that one could identify a person from their heart dynamics with a tiny sensor underneath a wrist.  Maybe a sensor held on the neck near the carotid artery could make sense.   Typically, a medical electrocardiogram requires 10-12 leads, including 6-8 in the chest area, although sometimes only  2 or 3 are used, as for conscious sedation during long dental procedures.  Heart rate and rhythm vary with activity and body chemistry.  It’s hard to believe that it can be unique.  Sometimes heart patients are monitored for a few days with a Holter device, which requires shaving the chest before.  It’s curious that the video shows a hairy man as the actor. 


This little technological development should be watched to see if it is for real.  But the medical questions make me wonder. 

Wikipedia attribution links (1 and 2) for Holter pictures.  

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