The remote biometric tool uses low-level Doppler radar to measure a user’s heart, and then continually monitors it to ensure that no one else is operating the computer. The system relies on the fact that – like fingerprints or eye scans – no two people have identical hearts, say the researchers.

The system is a safe and, the researchers say, potentially a more effective alternative to passwords and other biometric identifiers as it is a passive and non-contact approach that does not require users to actively authenticate themselves whenever they want to log in. The researchers go on to note that it could eventually be used for smartphones and for screening at airports.

“We would like to use it for every computer because everyone needs privacy,” says Wenyao Xu, PhD, the lead author of a study on the research, and an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Logging-in and logging-out are tedious.”

The system takes about eight seconds to scan a heart for the first time, and afterward can monitor and continuously recognize that heart. The signal strength of the system’s radar is much less than Wi-Fi, says Xu, and does not pose any health threat.

“We are living in a Wi-Fi surrounding environment every day, and the new system is as safe as those Wi-Fi devices,” he says. “The reader is about 5 milliwatts, even less than one percent of the radiation from our smartphones.”

The system bases its identification technique on a given heart’s geometry, its shape and size, and how it moves – characteristics that do not change except with the occurrence of serious heart disease. In fact, heart-based biometrics systems are not new, but this is claimed to be the first non-contact, remote device to characterize a heart’s geometry traits for identification.

The researchers plan to miniaturize the system and have it installed on the corners of computer keyboards. They say it could also be used for user identification on cell phones, and even for airport identification, where a device could monitor people up to 30 meters away.

For more, see “Cardiac Scan: A Non-Contact and Continuous Heart-Based User Authentication System.”

Related articles:
Radar-based device measures body vital signs wirelessly
Deep learning algorithm beats cardiologists at arrhythmia diagnosis
Wearable authenticator startup raises $15M

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