Two biometric firms have developed wearable tech that they plan to release later this year that can be used to unlock smartphones, tablets, other electronic devices, and online databases by reading a person’s biometrics. One device is a wristband called Nymi ($79). It was developed by the firm Bionym to read heartbeat patterns of those who wear it, then relay the pattern to whatever technology the person wants access to, instead of them typing in a password or PIN.
However, a weakness of using electrocardiograms (ECG) has already been pointed out by some researchers. An individual’s ECG doesn’t remain steady all of the time and can relay a false negative to such a device at a rate of 6-7% of the time, which would block that person’s access to their own devices 6-7% of the time, wasting their time and heightening frustration. However, Bionym claims they have worked around that issue by having the ECG read only when it is on the person’s wrist at a time when they are calm and rested.
The other device is being manufactured by the firm Sonavation. It’s called AxisKey and is a fingerprint scanner fob on steroids. It goes beyond reading just a fingerprint, using ultrasound to scan the surface of fingerprints, the countours below fingerprint ridges three dimensionally, and the motion as well as the shape of blood vessels below the finger’s surface in a very short amount of time to verify a person’s identity for access to their devices or databases.
Both devices are designed to only store biometric data locally on the device with heavy encryption, but if they’re electronic, they will eventually be hacked. Criminals always find ways around such things.
Source: David Morris. Kill the password. And the PIN number. And the car key. CNN.com. May 1, 2014.