The 21st century is a goldmine for tech-lovers because it has been all about evolving technology. From creating the first-ever touch-screen smartphone to having your fingerprint as a password to unlock your phone, evolution is in the air. The technology surrounding various types of authentication has put old-fashioned passwords to shame.
Unlike before, Biometric security is now the trend of the future. From fingerprints to retina scans and even the latest trend of developing heartbeat scanners also used in document security systems Arguably, heartbeats are the future of identity recognition technology and as a form of security protocol. Moreover, since people are so notorious for having bad passwords, maybe introducing heartbeats to unlock private data is not so bad after all. However, here’s the question that a majority of people have been asking themselves – will heartbeat detectors replace fingerprints for Biometric authentication?
How Heartbeat Recognition Came into Being
While fingerprints have been universally used as a form of authentication for some time now, heartbeat detecting tools are not something new. In fact, it’s been more than 100 years since we’ve started using heartbeat detection tools to identify people (for example, criminals). Perhaps the reason why fingerprint biometric has remained so popular for a decade now is because of how they don’t tend to change in a person unless they are dealing with extreme skin conditions such as leprosy.
In 2013, a Toronto-based company called Bionym created the Nymi wearable wristband. According to its developers, the Nymi uses embedded version of the electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor to understand and trace the unique cardiac rhythm of every users. And since each heartbeat rhythm is different for everyone, it’s likely to have a big name for itself.
How it Works?
The ECG sensor, when put on the wrist of the user, it’s able to match the wearer’s ECG pattern and store it in its database for future authentication. It the heartbeat of the wearer matches then you’re good to go.
We’re One Step Further
Researchers have now taken heartbeat biometrics a step further and have introduced a system which uses a low-level Doppler radar to recognize the shape and size of a person’s heart.
According to the existing research studies on ECGs, each heartbeat pattern is unique for every individuals, which means that every person has a "potential biometric identifier." While a heart beats about 60 to 90 times per minute, getting a passcode made to make an original pattern might take several beats to perfect it. Unlike fingerprints which requires authentication three times.
Fingerprint vs. Heartbeat Authentication
For checking your heartbeat rhythm, you only have to use the wearable gadget to see how much health data can be collected. This data can then be transferred to the doctor for analysis and then can be stored into the electronic health records of the patient. However, this process can cause the data to be vulnerable to cyber-attacks and possible theft. Moreover, since hearts are fickle and can change patterns if a health issue forms, which can make them vulnerable to changes. This makes fingerprint scans more convenient than the heartbeat patterns.
Speaking of convenience, the Nymi is being developed to tackle this issue as it now only requires a user to confirm their identity authentication once a day. Rather than swiping for every time a user turns their phone on. Once the user has been recognized, they will be able to continuously access to devices as well as services through wireless communications.
Furthermore, the advantage of an ECG sensor is that no one can copy your unique pattern. The device will continue to signal consistently until it finds a match. Unlike fingerprints where anyone can steal your finger’s print by just using a scotch tape.
The best part about the Nymi is that it appears to unlock your device like magic as soon as you hold onto it. Which means you don’t have to put whatever you’re holding down to unlock your phone.
As much as tech-lovers and professionals love to argue over which biometric authentication is better, it’s the size of the buyer base that will make the winner its advantages. After all, competitions are something that we, as humans, are very familiar with.
So, in case if someone asks you to define a part of your identity and you might imagine your eyes, face, fingerprint or voice, try talking about how your heartbeat is also a part of your identification. Other than that, more bio-metric ways of recognition such as iris scans and facial recognition are also taking over the technological department.
While many are excited to welcome heartbeat scanners as the new way of authentication, there’s still more work done left to be done on its end. Regardless, companies have deployed beta pre-order products. Apple is one of the companies to do this and while everyone knows the great potential of the company when it comes to tech, it seems that it will be contributing more than expected to built-in heartbeat monitors that will be able to measure a person’s blood flow.