Engineers at the University of Toronto have recently developed a new security system that identifies users by measuring the precise shape of their heartbeat. Creating a graph called an electrocardiogram (ECG), researchers are able to measure a person’s unique cardiac rhythm, embed this ID into a phone or tablet, and subsequently lock out unauthorized users.
For years, doctors have examined a heartbeat’s pattern by putting sensors on a patient’s chest. Now, however, researchers have made the process even easier by developing cheap, thin sensors that can measure ECG through a person’s fingertips.
While the finger sensors aren’t precise enough for the doctor’s office, they allow heartbeat measurements to be embedded into digital devices and used as authentication codes.
But do heartbeats really differ that much between individuals? According to LiveScience, engineers have discovered that the exact shape of ECG spikes differs from person to person. Just like a fingerprint, everyone’s heartbeat has a unique shape that stays the same over time, even during excitement or exercise.
Engineers at Bionym, the company marketing the method, recommend using the system in conjunction with other ID checks, such as fingerprint scanning or alphanumeric codes.