Yeah, yeah, we're all special. It's a cliche, but in at least one way, we really are special: Our heartbeats have individually identifiable characteristics that are impossible to spoof or replicate.
Startup Bionym has leveraged this fact to create Nymi, a wristband that takes your pulse and uses it to authenticate a wide range of devices and applications that require iron-clad security. Bionym is busy developing iOS and Android apps for things like password management, car and computer access, and even a Bitcoin wallet. Pulse authentication can make using all of these things a lot easier because you don't have to remember anything. You just need to show up with the Nymi as your passport.
Bionym president Andrew D'Souza, whom I met at Mobile World Congress, showed me how the bracelet uses dual electrodes, integrated into the clasp, to take your pulse when you touch the clasp for a few seconds. It's important to note that the sensor records pulse data only when you touch the clasp--it's not like a Basis band that captures continuous heart rate data.
The wristband also includes an accelerometer and a gyroscope, and fitness apps are in the works too. D'Souza noted, however, that these sensors could also be used for gesture recognition, so you could incorporate movement triggers into the authentication process--the wave of the future, indeed.
Bionym plans to create an app ecosystem around the Nymi and its special talents. The company has started to ship developer units, and has a pile of 6,000 applications from interested coders. D'Souza said Bionym is very concerned about privacy--especially considering the kind of data it collects--and plans to be vigilant about app development. D'Souza said a few big names are developing apps, but he wouldn't disclose specifics.
Nor is Bionym stopping at heartbeats, apparently. "Your gait is a biometrics point, too," D'Souza noted with a smile.
Passwords can be cracked and keys can be stolen, but no one can replicate your heartbeat. The Nymi shows how much you can do with standard wearable gear to solve common problems--when you know how to use data for good (not evil).