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article imageGoodbye login, hello heart scan

By Tim Sandle     Oct 7, 2017 in Technology
Are fingerprints a reliable biometric tool? To overcome potential security flaws researchers are looking to the feasibility of using heart scans for added computer systems security.
Scientists from the University at Buffalo have constructed a computer security system that works on the basis of scanning the dimensions of the user's heart and holding this pattern as an identifier. The technology is based on a low-level Doppler radar for recording the heart measurements.
Once the pattern has been stored and once the computer system has been accessed, the technology allows for continued security assessment by constantly monitoring the heart measurement. This avoids a situation where the user steps out of the room and a second person attempts to access the computer. The security is based on no two people ever having been known to have identical hearts.
The core scanning process - Doppler radar - is a type of specialized radar that uses the Doppler effect to generate velocity data about objects at a distance. The Doppler effect is the change in frequency or wavelength of a wave for an observer who is moving relative to the wave source. The process is more commonly used for weather analysis. The scan is produced by a microwave signal being bounced off the desired target. Computers can then analyze how the object's motion has altered the frequency of the returned signal.
In terms of safety the risk as low; the scanner-reader is approximately 5 milliwatts, which is less than 1 percent of the radiation from smartphones. In terms of performance, the system developed to date takes about eight seconds to scan and record the heart of an adult.
The researchers, led by Dr. Wenyao Xu, plan to commercialize the technology in the form of a miniaturized system installed onto the corners of computer keyboards. This is captured in the white paper "Cardiac Scan: A Non-contact and Continuous Heart-based User Authentication System."
The new approach to security is being presented to October 2017's 23rd Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Communication (MobiCom) in Utah.
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