Toronto University grads market heartbeat-based biometrics

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Canadian firm Bionym has launched a wearable device offering heartbeat-based biometrics.

Called Nymi, the $79 device is an electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor that monitors personal heartbeat characteristics. Once it has authenticated the user based on heartbeat, it communicates their identity to selected devices using Bluetooth Low Energy. The unit only authenticates using the heartbeat's unique characteristics once. After that, it simply checks for the heartbeat's presence. If it is removed, it stops authenticating the user to the device, and they must put it on to reauthenticate themselves.

The device must be registered with an app, which is available for iOS, Android, Windows and OS X. It uses a mixture of proximity sensing and gesture monitoring, allowing users to control devices by flicking their wrists, say the creators.

The unit, which is now on pre-order, ships in early 2014. The founders are hoping to use the system to enable more features in the future, including authenticated mobile payments.

The company, which closed $1.4 million in seed funding in August, was developed by engineering graduates from the University of Toronto.

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