by Barry Chudakov on May 3rd, 2010

Heartbeats

“Everybody’s got a hungry heart,” Springsteen told us. Everyone also has, it turns out, a unique heartbeat. IDesia, an Israel-based biometrics company, is capitalizing on this phenomenon, taking it to consumer healthcare and the emerging field of bio-identification.

 

Close up of a strip of ECG EKG tape, Flickr, chiqmaroff, all rights reserved.

 

According to a recent press release, the company’s unique “all in one” offering is not only capable of extracting users’ heartbeat information for personal authentication, but also supports storage and utilization of this information for “a practically limitless range of user identity-aware applications, initially focused on personal health, fitness and wellbeing.” In other words, your heartbeat is now a signal identifier of you. Like your fingerprints, the unique pattern of your heartbeats creates a Metalife of you that can be captured, stored and retrieved.

 

How It Works

All it takes is for you to touch a so-called contact sensitive surface. Your individually unique heartbeat information is then extracted via proprietary signal processing and patented pattern recognition algorithms. This is used for cardiologic waveform matching, enabling fast and reliable user authentication. IDesia’s range of biometric solutions include integrated solutions designed for implementation in netbooks, mobile phones, gamepads and embedded devices. (See Computex 2010.)

 

No 30 The beginning (according to Gray's Anatomy), Flickr, Nu Scot, all rights reserved.

 

Why It Matters

1. Your body, specifically your fingers and your touch, is now an information transfer device.

2. As a result, touching particular surfaces (‘smart’ surfaces) can trigger a cascade of information about you.

3. Your heart and its beating rhythms, while ostensibly yours, can now extend beyond your chest cavity. These rhythms are your unique identifiers and authentication indicators.

4. Your heartbeats, like your saliva, iris, gait, facial characteristics, and other bio identifiers can be captured and, in a sense, taken from you, separated from you–abstracted to wave form patterns in the case of heartbeats–then used in an environment of which you are only vaguely aware.

5. Never before in human history have so many commercial technologies been aimed at your body to provide scalable, salable applications of your (previously only personal) data.

6. All of the above are creating another version of you, what I call a Metalife.

7. Due to this enlivening of information, any artifact of you–in this case touch-based heart rate monitoring–has the potential to create a Metalife.

8. We are now entering the era of the drag-and-drop self, a deconstruction of you that entails multiple layers of artifact. Previously, these artifacts were external to you, i.e. driver’s license, passport, or credit card. Increasingly these artifacts reflect technology diving into biology to extract untold amounts of usable data.

9. Biometric enrollment, as it is known, is a call to enable technology to invade and monitor personal biorhythms.

10. The central question we must consider and invite widespread discussion about is this: whose Metalife is it, anyway? What input should those of us whose heartbeats and other biorhythms are being captured have in this process? Do we fully understand the protocols for biometric capture and data dissemination? What safeguards should we demand and implement?

IDsia’s fascinating technology opens a window onto a vast area of unconsidered assumptions and civil rights that should compel us all to take notice and engage with these issues.

 

Full body scan, Flickr, Gulzar2, all rights reserved.

 

Further Information

Biometrics Institute Launches Privacy Awareness Checklist

Democrats Believe in Biometric Social Security Cards

Consumer ID to Drive Global Biometric Market

IDesia Unveils World’s First Ever Heartbeat-Based, User Identity-Aware Consumer Healthcare Applications for Computing and Mobile Phone Platforms

Face Recognition

 

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