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Security is Only a Heartbeat Away

One new startup uses a person's unique cardiac signal to secure digital devices.

Recent graduates of the University of Toronto are employing sensor technology that uses an individual's heartbeat as the identifier that grants them access to their digital devices. Offered by Bionym, a biometric software development company founded by Foteini Agrafioti and Karl Martin, HeartID requires the user to grip a small piece of equipment similar in size to a mouse.

According to a report on, the software detects a person's cardiac signal, allowing them access to the contents of the device without a password. The company reports accuracy exceeding 99 percent, adding that it is a convenient alternative to current biometric options like the fingerprint swipe and iris recognition.

The software also features continuous monitoring, which recognizes an unauthorized user who accesses the controller even after the proper user suggessfully logged on. In this case, the unauthorized person is logged off right away.

"We're looking to usher in a new era where our devices will know who we are, enabling automatic personalization,"  Agrafioti said. "Imagine using the family tablet, gaming device, or even car, and having it know who is using it, and loading all of their settings and accounts automatically."

The newly opened Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto is home to Bionym and several other startup companies working to convert discoveries made in the lab into marketable products.

Image from Shutterstock

Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.