back to article Boffins take biometric logins to heart, literally: Cardiac radar IDs users to unlock their PCs

The next form of biometric identification may be a heart scan. A group of computer scientists have proposed a system called Cardiac Scan, which uses a cheap and cheerful Doppler radar to wirelessly map out the dimensions of your beating heart. They say your old ticker's shape and pulsations are unique, and therefore useful for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heart ID

    If you have the capability to ID people by their heart, presumably you can continually monitor their heart's health and let them know when something is amiss and might want to schedule a checkup, or call 911 for them when things really go wrong.

  2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Keep Calm...

    ...and Login

    How that is possible if you've heard that Wall Street is on the point of crashing and you want to sell...

    OR you have arrived in the country and are being asked by immigration to login to your laptop...

    Reminds me of...

    (Showing my age, I know)

  3. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Did their tests take monozygotic twins into account? Stressfull situations? Frog marches? How difficult did they say it would be to accurately replay the signals if covertly recorded?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Did their tests take monozygotic twins into account? "

      They may have the same DNA, but they don't have the same fingerprints or vein patterns, so it's unlikely they'll have identical hearts. The pattern may be the same, but the assembly varies slightly, which is why even identical twins tend to have different personalities and interests.

  4. hplasm

    So- an office full of these...

    ...and no WiFi any more.

    (Note that WiFi doesn't interfere with these things. Just like Powerline Ethernet...)

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "If [..] a different person standing in front of the computer screen, the PC will not operate."

    Careful there. In professional or even private environments, someone coming over to see what's on your screen for whatever reason is very common. If the scanner can't cope with two hearts in the same vicinity, things will get ugly quickly. Not to mention that sometimes the helpdesk guy just has to sit in the chair and do stuff. I hope the scanner will be up to that as well.

    And if it can, then the burglar doesn't care about the scanner - he can just tie the victim up, drag him to the PC and then do whatever he wants.

    This tech may be fine to control access to physical areas, but I'm not convinced PC access is the right area to apply it.

    1. Nick Kew

      Re: "If [..] a different person standing in front of the computer screen, the PC will not operate."

      Two hearts? That'll make life interesting for the pregnant. But it doesn't look like an intractable problem to me.

      Could become a feature. Switch to Boss mode and the screen changes from your play to your work as soon as someone else is nearby. Find out if your boss has a heart.

  6. macjules Silver badge

    Wait for the next announcement, in order to help secure Government funding: "Using a series of heart rate monitors around the country we can identify terrorists by their increased heart rate".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can see how it could be useful and also ripe for abuse but how will it cope with people who are cycling through different meds that affect their heart beat in various ways?

    1. Nick Kew

      Yep. All kinds of meds, from the performance-enhancing taken by anyone who goes in for high-level competitive sports[1] through to those taken by older folks thought to be at risk of a stroke or heart attack.

      But there's also the plain ol' progression of the ticker through life. And personal events like getting fit, or vice versa. Useful bit of built-in obsolescence there ;) Some of us would insist on there being an override, like (say) the classic password on a post-it note.

      [1] Of the kind that exercise the heart, so maybe not darts or snooker.

  8. Christoph

    Could a heart attack change the pattern enough that the phone would refuse to call for help?

  9. Cuddles Silver badge


    "you can't steal it from a person, or otherwise kill them, and still use the God-given blood pump to authenticate the victim"

    I'm seeing potential for a Face/Off sequel here.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Transplants?

      And why can't you use a similar technology to record and replay the signals the system is expecting?

  10. dgc03052

    Great for poorly timed security lockouts

    Ack, we're getting hacked, I'd better...

    <Security Alert: Heart rate variance has exceeded limits, console locked>

  11. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    better idea

    Sounds like an unacceptably high error rate. Perhaps best to stick to using it as a heart monitor, and find something more reliable for biometric login.

    I've not done any research but I suspect that the pattern of veins etc in the rectum may be unique, so logging in securely requires nothing more complicated than sticking some sort of probe in to photograph it, and of course leave it inserted to prevent unauthorised access if the user wanders off.

    One problem is that the veins and piles may well change over time, so a better option could be to look at vein patterns in the bladder. Just insert a fibreoptic camera via a catheter and you have the ultimate security system.

  12. Mephistro

    "2026, when a change of heart will mean a pretty bad day"

    As opposed to nowadays, when having your heart changed is like a picnic in a sunny day!

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

    people's hearts do not change shape, unless they suffer from serious heart disease.

    Or severe grief, or surgery, or even extreme happiness.

    Atrial fibrillation occurs in 7% of the over 65s, which affects the heart beat.

    I'm also not so keen on being unable to unlock my phone to call an ambulance if I've had a heart attack.

  14. TheRealRoland


    I, for one, will be welcoming my Super-Platinum DocWagon HTR team, to bail me out of yet another compromised run... Gotta find that mole, and quickly!

  15. steve5565

    That would have saved the American Gov a lot of cash. There would have been no need to get any permission just put the phone or laptop next to the persons chest and ask it nicely to allow you access. As trump says.................fake news,........... me thinks but at least interesting.

  16. wsm

    Rue the day

    When you have to register your heartbeat in order to use a computer, just to combat terrorism you understand.

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