Maker Bionym says its Nymi wristband can ID you via your heartbeat

The makers of a new wristband claim that they can detect unique patterns in your heartbeat

Users have been able to unlock notebooks and other devices using fingerprints and other biometric methods for years now. Bionym Tuesday unveiled a wristband that the company says can identify you from your heartbeat alone.

The Nymi, as the company calls it, willl retail for less than $100, Bionym said. While users can preorder it via the Web site, it won't be delivered until 2014, the company said.

Like other biometric sensors, Bionym is pitching the Nymi as an alternative to passwords or PIN codes, allowing users to merely touch the sensor with a fingertip and "log in".

Karl Martin, the chief executive of Bionym, said via email that the key to the technology is identifying unique features within a user's electrocardiogram (ECG).

"It was actually observed over 40 years ago that ECGs had unique characteristics," Martin said. "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."

How it works

The Nymi is worn on the wrist, with an embedded sensor at the top. When the user touches the sensor, the device detects and identifies the user. Martin said that the Nymi is part of a three factors of security: the unique band itself, your ECG, and a dedicated app, which will be available for  iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OSX.

The band authenticates the user to the app via low-power Bluetooth, a company spokeswoman said. Once authenticated, the user will remain so until he or she physically moves out of range, the company said.

From an accuracy standpoint, the number of false positives--or misidentifying another person as the correct user--is effectively zero, Martin said.

"We're not putting out specific numbers just yet because they tend to be misunderstood or taken out of context,' Martin said of the Nymi's accuracy. "That being said, we've tested on over 1,000 subjects in collaboration with the University of Toronto, and we're able to achieve higher accuracy than face recognition, and accuracy that is competitive with fingerprint recognition."

Fingerprint sensors require constant reauthentication, and there's no guarantee they came from an actual person, Martin claimed. And a token can be lost or stolen, he said.

Follow TechHive on Tumblr today.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags gadgetsconsumer electronicssecuritymobile securitybiometric security

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Mark Hachman

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place