The Nymi smart bracelet uses cardiac rhythms to control your smartphone, car and more

By on September 3, 2013, 11:02 AM

Canadian startup Bionym has developed a smart bracelet that will allow you to automatically login to your device, unlock your car or even open your front door, among many other things.

The company's President and CEO, Dr. Karl Martin says that face recognition, fingerprint identification and retinal scanners are all poor forms of security that really aren't much better than the basic password system we have been using forever now. He says that these are all personal attributes that we leave behind everywhere we go.

His smart bracelet dubbed the Nymi, will attempt to change all that. With over 10 years of R&D behind it, the bracelet makes use of the electrical activity radiating from a person's heart. It is in this technology that Martin claims the device is significantly more reliable than the aforementioned forms of security.

Every person's heart generates extremely unique electrical activity, or ECG, of which the Nymi identifies and integrates into the various functionalities of the device. You can leave your fingerprint behind on something, but you certainly won't be leaving your ECG signature anywhere (as it is being produced inside your body).

At a quick glance the Nymi looks just like your average bracelet. From the moment you put in on and fasten the clasp, the device is constantly authenticating the wearer to ensure maximum security. Not only does it recognize the person wearing it, but also all of that person's devices and other supported devices within a certain proximity.

The proximity sensors play a major role in the technology. You unlock your phone or computer simply by holding it or getting close enough to the device. Dr. Martin is so confident in the security of the Nymi, he sees no issues implementing retail payments, opening car doors, front doors and storing all of your personal passwords. But it goes beyond that, Martin has created the device to be smart appliance ready as well.

He hopes to have the device control much more than credit card info, passwords and the lock to your hotel room. The device is capable of setting the temperature or lighting in a room, remembering your favorite dishwasher, washing machine or TV settings. It has full gesture support as well, a simple flick of the wrist can open your trunk, change the radio station or even make selections on Netflix through your smart TV. There is also "liveliness detection," which sounds as though the system will lock down if the particular user's ECG doesn't register.

Martin is sure that this is the wave of the future, and I think we can all agree that passwords and keys will eventually be phased out. He sees this as an inevitable change that will help everyday people and tech giants like Google.

The Nymi is currently available for preorder on the official site with an expected release date in early 2014. The first run will cost you $80, afterwards the price will shoot up to $100.




User Comments: 4

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ETF Soldier ETF Soldier said:

Whether it works easily with other technology or not, the technology within the bracelet itself is pretty phenomenal!

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Martin is sure that this is the wave of the future, and I think we can all agree that passwords and keys will eventually be phased out. He sees this as an inevitable change that will help everyday people and tech giants like Google.

Gasoline cars will be phased out too, just as soon as we can figure out something better. Passwords and keys have the same requirement. For example, losing your keys is a big problem... losing your Nymi sounds far worse. Keys are also unaffected by water, dust, heat, and spares can be made for a few bucks. What happens if you lose your Nymi and can't unlock your phone or PC to call Nymi support? I'm sure they'll figure that stuff out, but it could make for a tough situation.

This sounds like a really cool invention, but the guy who made the Segway thought it was going to change personal transportation and it never did. How will all the devices communicate with the Nymi? Will we need special locks, a new car, point of sale terminals etc? NFC had similar promises and so far all I've ever used that for is sending a picture once just to try it out.

Guest said:

Does it go by the actual rhythm, the rate or the electrical pathways ( morphology ) taken by the heartbeat?

If by rhythm, it would be asinine due to the fact that the heart can be fickle, especially in those in later years. One second it could be a normal rhythm then the next they could have bigeminal premature ventricular complexes or even have escape beats. Also a lot of people, especially those with pulmonary issues like COPD, one of the many ailments that befall diabetic or obese people, are prone to actual rhythm conversions from a normal rhythm to the erratic machine gun premature firing of focii in the atria, or Atrial Fibrillation or Atrial Flutter. Both prone to being highly irregular, the morphology of the heart beat changing entirely. Even then the early beats can cause aberrant conductions. Would not be fun to "intermittently" have access to your car.

If rate, it too would be moot due to the fact that the normal person's heart is affected by stress and mood, accelerated by excitement or fear, decelerated by a dour mood or pain.

If electrical pathways (morphology), it would be more "fingerprint" but the electrical mapping of the heart is so tedious that it's only done in Electro-physiology Labs.

Novel idea but no real insight into the real workings of the heart, better chance chasing DNA, it's less likely to change on you.

Guest said:

^ Love the wall, hehe. I would like to add, however, that a highly portable wrist mounted cardiac sensor capable of sending vital information to a secure mobile device (algorithm-based syncing) available at the users fingertips or even capable of automatically linking to a device and notifying emergency systems in case of cardiac distress would be a more interesting and probably more sound and profitable endeavor. Like that? Reverse-engineered the plan and produced one that makes more logical sense.

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