Everyone knows we’re supposed to use long passwords filled with numbers, symbols and different cases. To be super safe, we’re even supposed to use a different password for each website. And, of course, all our different passwords can only be stored in our heads, where they can’t be found by the prying eyes of those who might enjoy stealing all our money or changing our Facebook status to “I got hacked looolllzzz!~”
But remembering a bunch of different passwords is hard, and it’s not foolproof: even long, complex passwords can be cracked. So what’s the alternative if we want to keep our data safe online? Fingerprint authentication? The ubiquitous sci-fi movie gadget known as a retina scanner?
According to Dr. Karl Martin, these futuristic-sounding devices aren’t good enough to protect us.
“Your face, your iris — they’re all physical features that can be stolen, that you leave everywhere,” he told the Verge. (Now, I know he’s talking about someone taking a picture of you or dusting your fingerprint, but did anyone else read that like he doesn’t think someone stealing your face is out of the question?)
Like a fingerprint, a person’s electrocardiogram (a measurement of the electrical activity inside your heart) is totally unique to them – but unlike a fingerprint, it can’t be stolen. According to Dr. Martin and his startup, Bionym, this is what will be used in the future to authenticate your accounts, keep your data safe, and even lock your doors and adjust the temperature of a room when you walk into it. Bionym has created a bracelet called the Nymi that can measure your electrocardiogram and interface with your devices to deliver a personalized – and secure – experience.
The Nymi itself is a bracelet, virtually indistinguishable from the Fitbit Flex or the Jawbone Up. When you put it on, you tap it with your opposite hand to create a full circuit and give the Nymi the measurement it needs. From then on, it’s constantly authenticating — that you’re the person wearing the device, that you’re wearing the right device, and that you’re connecting it to the right smartphone or tablet. The Nymi’s always making sure you are who you say you are, and is telling everything around you whether you’re right or not. (Its ability to tell other devices who you are could also enable remarkably personalized advertising, a slightly more worrisome use of the technology.)
It’s also full of sensors that tell certain devices how far away you are; someone else can’t open your phone from across the room. But you can unlock your phone without a password, because it’ll know you’re holding it. The Nymi’s authentication is so good and so trustworthy that Martin hopes it will be used for payments, passwords, even your car and house doors. Imagine sitting down at your computer and never needing a password, but knowing that when you walk away your logins go with you.
So, would you trade in your arsenal of crazy long passwords and even your house keys for a bracelet that knows who you are? As a person who hates having to remember a ton of random combinations of letters and numbers, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
If you’re interested in pre-ordering the Nymi, you can do it here.
(via The Verge)