Heart scans: Computer logins of the future

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A research team at the University at Buffalo in New York has developed a new, hands-off approach to computer security that could leave our days of complex passwords in the past: heart scanning.

Wenyao Xu, PhD, is the lead author of a study that sought to create a computer security system using the dimensions of users’ hearts as their passwords. Xu’s team developed the device, which they plan to install in miniature on the corners of computer keyboards, because “logging-in and logging-out are tedious,” he said in a university press release.

Xu’s security system uses low-level Doppler radar to measure a user’s heart, according to the release, taking around eight seconds to complete an initial scan. The system records the heart’s measurements and movement patterns, and will continuously recognize that heart after one scan.

The tech one-ups its predecessors, like fingerprint IDs and retinal scanning, because it’s a passive, no-contact device and monitors users constantly, Xu said. If the computer’s registered user isn’t sitting in front of the screen, the computer will cease to function, erasing the need for users to log out of their machines when away from their desks.

Xu and his team will present their findings next month at the International Conference on Mobile Computing and Communication in Utah.

Read more about the new biometric scan here: