Pentagon laser prototype identifies people by heartbeat

Pentagon laser prototype identifies people by heartbeat

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

Based on an infrared laser, the “Jetson” device was reportedly designed to thwart terrorism. It uses laser doppler vibrometry to harmlessly detect the subtle vibrations of a person’s body caused by the movement of blood throughout their circulatory system.

By measuring a person’s heartbeat, then comparing it to a database, the device can reportedly be used to ID someone with 95% accuracy in optimal testing conditions. This offers advantages over security identification approaches like facial recognition and fingerprint sensors since presumably “faking” a heart rhythm would be difficult or impossible.

The new laser technology however is limited to detecting a heartbeat on bare skin or through thin clothing, and is made ineffective if a person is wearing thicker clothing like a jacket. The system also requires a certain amount of time – about 30 seconds – to create a usable profile for analysis, during which the person being tested must be still.

According to the 2017 Review Book of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), the Jetson project has been in development for several years. The device being developed is envisioned as a ruggedized portable biometric system with a response time of under five seconds.

In addition to defense and military applications, the technology is also seen as suitable for various consumer and commercial purposes, such as a biometric authentication solution for mobile devices. Other uses could include wireless heart monitoring in medical and clinical applications, as well as badge-less entry systems for secured buildings.

United States Department of Defense

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