Your Heartbeat Could Be Your Password, in the Future


For all out trying, we have yet to find a biometric system more secure than a good ol’ password. Iris and full-face scanners can be beater with pictures or videos, voice recognition can be beaten with a recording, and fingerprint scanners can be beaten by flour, masking tape and a tossed can.

But scientists, undaunted by the challenge of creating a unique personal identifier, have come up with a new possible solution: your heartbeat.

Everyone has a slightly different heart beat. We have a different rhythm, a different cadence, etc. Much like our irises and fingerprints, our heartbeat is unique to us, and thus can be used to identify us. and it is this fact that Chun-Liang Lin of the National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan wants to exploit for security. Using an Electro Cardiogram, or ECG, to monitor an individual’s heart beat, he managed to create a mathematical model of how an individual’s heart beats.

Lin’s prrof of concept samples an individual once and generates a key, from the mathematical model. Then, when the system is to be unlocked, another ECG reading is taken. The two are compared, and, if it is the same, then the system is unlocked. This can be done quickly, thanks to the reading being taken on the palm.

There are a few inherent advantages to this system. Because it isn’t based on a visual metric, there’s no way to snap a quick photo of the body part. The reading can only be taken by contact, so it is much harder to crack. And because it is based on the heartbeat, high levels of fear would make it deny entry. So, if his system gets implemented, it could be one of the first truly secure forms of biometric security.

Lin wants to build this technology into external hard drives and other forms of portable mass storage. He wants devices to be unlockable just by touching them, a very natural gesture that is part of using the device. And who knows? Maybe Lin’s innovation will lead us to a world of invisible protection.