In a move that surely caught Hollywood by surprise, Canadian company Bionym has announced the imminent arrival of a biometric authentication device dubbed “Nymi” that relies not on retinal scans or fingerprints or even handprints, but upon the beating of your heart. As with many things human and organic, the particular rhythm of your cardiac system is unique to you, and the mad scientists at Bionym are leveraging this fact as part of a 3-factor authentication system that will allow you to use the bracelet for a variety of applications, not the least of which will be unlocking your devices, accounts and just about anything that can be communicated to via bluetooth or NFC.
What this means for you:
Just about everyone, including yours truly, grumbles about how inconvenient password authentication really is, despite knowing just how bad it could be without them. Nymi has the potential to leverage biometric security measures in a way that doesn’t rely on easily defeated fingerprint readers or expensive and uncomfortable body part scanners. This type of 3-factor authentication puts a twist on traditional two-factor methods (password + device) and instead substitutes your cardiac signature plus physical contact with your skin for the password to unlock the Nymi, which is also tied to another device like your smartphone for a third verification. Absence of any one of the 3 factors make authentication impossible, and mere possession of the device doesn’t prove ownership as it does for current-gen proximity devices like the Skip.
It almost sounds too good to be true, and the demo video released by the company has a distinct sci-fi feel that will probably provide at least one eyebrow-raising moment for any first-world citizen. But when you stop to think about the various demonstrations, each one already has an existing, real-world corollary that while maybe not in widespread use yet, could easily become commonplace tomorrow, especially if Nymi takes off. I believed enough in the promise to pre-order mine (#1141). Heck, for $79, at minimum it will make for a great conversation piece at parties, and if all it does is keep my cell phone securely and safely unlocked while I’m near it, I’ll consider it money well spent.