Nymi bracelet uses your heartbeat to unlock your devices

by: Andrew GrushSeptember 3, 2013


We’ve already seen some pretty unique ideas when it comes to device authentication. Not only has Motorola shown us a few out-of-the-box solutions like tattoos and pills, there’s also the NFC ring, which took Kickstarter by storm not too long ago. Now comes yet another radical approach to ‘unlocking’ your smartphone, a wearable bracelet called Nymi that uses your heartbeat to log in to your device.

So how does this magical little bracelet work exactly? The idea is that Nymi uses a electrocardiogram sensor to monitor your cardiac rhythm. In short, this allows the bracelet to tell the difference between your heartbeat and that of others. The bracelet also has a proximity sensor and motion detector allowing for basic motion gestures, too.

Out of the gate, the Nymi will work with Android, iOS, Mac and Windows devices - though the company has an even bigger vision for its product down the road.

Once you put on the bracelet, Nymi will authenticate all your compatible devices when you are near them. Unlike an NFC ring, if the bracelet is stolen, the thief won’t be able to get in to your device, because he or she won’t have the same cardiac rhythm as you.

Right now Nymi is still in the prototype stages, though Bionym (the device’s creators) is currently plan to ship the device starting in early spring of next year. In the meantime, the company is already taking pre-orders for $79 for the first 25,000 orders. After that, Nymi will cost $99.

Out of the gate, the Nymi will work with Android, iOS, Mac and Windows devices – though the company has an even bigger vision for its product down the road, as demonstrated in the video below:

This is certainly a pretty unique idea and has a ton of potential, at least if it works as intended. Of course, paying $79 – $99 for an authentication tool might be a little hard to swallow for some folks.

What do think of the Nymi, is this something you could see yourself picking up?

  • John

    What if I’m exercising and raise my heart rate? What if I have an irregular heartbeat? What if I have anxiety problems (which I do)? This one’s for the chill people.

    • lil bit

      Heart rate doesn’t matter, your ecg signature is still pretty much the same. Some waves change slightly if abusing some drugs or if you have a fever or what ever but these are really minor things and probably cannot be detected on the wrist electrodes of an ecg device anyway.

  • poop

    “Right now Nymi is still in the prototype stages, though Bionym (the device’s creators) is currently plan to ship the device starting in early spring of next year.”

    —————————–^ (Shouldn’t that be “planning?”)

  • End in sight

    Wow. Pretty cool. But getting hotels to use this thing to unlock doors might take some time…

  • john

    So, if someone is threatening you and you need to call da police, it won’t work?
    More to the point, if I accidentally set the lock when my heart is racing, I need to get on to a roller coaster every time I need to use the phone?

    • lil bit

      It’s not a fucking wrist speedometer. Go to Wikipedia or something and read about ecg, then you soon understand the basic concept.

      • lil bit

        Example John, two identical cars pass by, A is going 60 and B 70 kmh. Then a truck C comes by going 60 kmh. Do you really conclude that A and C are identical? Your argument just doesn’t make any sense. If you see a turtle you dont need to go all “wait a minute, let’s check it’s top speed, maybe it’s a horse”, because the shell and shape already gave it away.

      • john

        Wow, someone is being rather critical/

        Let’s start this again. Hi. How are you?

        All jokes aside, it’s a well known fact that the accuracy of all ECG based authentication is limited by a) variability of ECG and b) standardization of ECG features. The first refers to factors that can vary ECG, such as psychological factors, influence of chemicals, etc. The latter refers to measured units from measured ECG which will form the basis set of the authentication. As of now, there are very few accurate enough ECG measurements that can produce standard basis that are unique enough for each person and have little or predictable variability.

        This is why so often ECG is integrated into compound biometric authentication systems, instead of serving as a standalone authentication. It’s more like there are 3 cars and you can only differentiate their uniqueness by measuring their physical performance, such as MPG, top speed, 0-60 performance etc. Now it follows that these physical attributes will vary in accordance with the condition of these cars, mileage, and the driver. eg) car A after 10 years later after the first measurement with an intoxicated driver will produce different results from the first measurements.

        To take it up a notch, I’m going to guess that this ECG auth device will probably take RR, PR and QT intervals as the basis. I am making this assumption as most common biometric systems use these measurements. These measurements are not…stable or immutable enough to be reliable to be used standalone. You may correct me if the device uses some other revolutionary ECG measurements, but I doubt it.

        Btw, facial recognition + ECG is one of the most popular multibiometric system and one of the more secure robust systems. I wonder if each Android devices require such level of security though.

  • ehEye

    don’t like the bracelet aspect; i have never worn a watch as i don’t like “appliances” on my arm, leg, etc. [and some people have allergies or get ‘slime’ from wearing jewelry esp. plastic.] It should be a subcutaneous implant – now that i could get into, or at l;east it could get ‘into’ me! [also much better security]

    • qwertzman

      yeah, and then the robbers cut through your flesh, very secure … :D