Identity Security and Device Control at the Tip of Your . . . Heartbeat?

Biometrics are sooo 2012, because the daunting task of password replacement has Toronto-based company Bionym taking sci-fi-esque authentication and access to the masses with their new biometric recognition system, a wristband called Nymi.

If you watch any spy show or movie you’ve surely seen high-level-clearance type covert operatives enter a secure room by placing their thumb, finger or palm against a fancy-looking scanner. There are also retinal or iris scanners at places like NCIS’ MTAC (Leroy Jethro Gibbs, you always have access in my world. Just sayin’) and voice recognition protocols.

But biometrics are sooo 2012, because the daunting task of password replacement has Toronto-based company Bionym taking sci-fi-esque authentication and access to the masses with their new biometric recognition system, a wristband called Nymi. Using the wearer’s distinctive heart rhythms to verify identity, Nymi allows access to a number of registered devices. Here are some of the things Nymi can help you do:

  • Open your car doors and trunk
  • Unlock your personal computer or tablet
  • Pay using your credit card at participating retail outlets
  • Unlock the door of your hotel room
  • Activate your thermostat
  • Turn on Smart-Appliance Ready devices like your TV and digital picture frames
  • Send you email notifications

If that’s not high-tech enough for you, Nymi also has the option to program gesture commands for more specific actions, i.e., turning your wrist to cue your car door to open. It also remains authenticated as long as you are wearing the wristband – so it won’t time out like your bank’s website – which means faster transactions all around. Just take it off to sign out.

Of course, as secure as it sounds, we can’t help but wonder how one might hack the device. What happens if you lose it? Given that your heartwave is as unique as your fingerprints, it seems like it would be tricky to crack. We hope so!

While identity security is Nymi’s main goal at this moment, it’s exciting to think of the additional features that could become part of its makeup down the line. Using Nymi as an activity tracker is already being discussed, and other third party apps will probably quickly become available, thanks to the open-source design which will allow support across a variety of platforms instead of favoring just one.

Imagine being able to be alerted to a heart attack or other cardiac event and having 911 automatically dialed? And Nymi will probably be cool enough at its outset, just by existing. But down the road imagine a blinged-out bracelet or pendant version of Nymi – nothing wrong with fashion meeting function.

Expected to release in early 2014, you can preorder your Nymi here. Are you going to buy one?

(Image from NCIS: Lauren Holly as Jenny Shepherd prepares to enter MTAC)