Your Smartphone Might Start Scanning Your Heart


Just in case you thought you read that wrong, yes, your beating heart could become a password. How? Now that researchers have begun implementing facial recognition systems in common tools such as smart phones, they are looking for even better ways to improve. A group of computer scientists at the University of Buffalo, New York, developed an authentication system that scans your heart’s unique size and shape to identify you.

Simply being near a device with this technology is enough to unlock it. The system uses low-level Doppler radar to map out the dimensions of your beating heart, granting you access to a device as long as you’re near it. Boiling it down to usage in smartphones, you could set your phone up to unlock automatically when you are holding it. If you leave it on a table and walk away, it would automatically lock itself.

Because this system relies on the owner being alive to work, it is harder to fool than a fingerprint or iris scanner that rely on a physical marker identification but no actual proof the correct person is present. In an initial study of 78 people, the Cardiac Scan system scored a 98.61% balanced accuracy proving its worth as a potential mainstream security feature.

While this technology is intriguing, there are still many issues to work out with the system. Surprisingly, risk of heart disease is not an issue. The strength of the signal is less than Wi-Fi, meaning it wouldn’t contribute to the natural risk of using your smartphone. One current issue however, is that as long as you are nearby, the device will unlock for anyone. This could potentially be solved if the heart recognition worked in tandem with a fingerprint or facial scanner, effectively proving that the face or fingerprint scan does in fact belong to the correct person, as identified by the scan of their heart. For further information on this system, click here.


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