Bionym's wearable authentication device ships to developers

Bionym Nymi in colors

Fujitsu Laboratories is working on an RFID tag that can be used with wearables, such as the  Bionym Nymi device.

Credit: Bionym

Nymi Band uses electrical signals in your heart to secure smartphone, laptop, car or office

A new wearable device designed to use your unique heart rhythms to authenticate your identity for everything from your smartphone to your car door is being shipped to developers.

Bionym Inc., a Toronto-based company working on what could be the world's first wearable authentication device, announced today that manufacturing has begun on the Nymi Band. The first units already have been shipped to developers in an effort to build out an application ecosystem.

The Nymi is expected to be officially released this fall, though a specific date hasn't be announced.

"We are truly excited by what our community has been creating with the Nymi Beta SDK and emmulator, including partners such as Brivo Labs," Balaji Gopalan, director of platform at Bionym, said in a statement. "We are proud to provide limited-edition Nymi Bands to our developers to help them deliver production-ready applications in time for the Nymi Band shipments later this fall."

Brivo Labs, based in Bethesda, Md., is working with a developer-edition Nymi Band to build an app for it that will unlock doors.

Andrew D'Souza, president of Bionym, said last month that the company had already presold about 10,000 of the computerized bands.

Bionym Nymi Bionym

The Nymi is worn on the wrist and communicates with devices and apps via Bluetooth.

As designed, company executives expect Nymi to be able to replace passwords . Too many people still use weak passwords, rely on the same password for every application or service or simply don't use passwords at all.

A wearable authentication device, which communicates with devices and apps via Bluetooth, could get around that issue.

"Passwords, which we still use today, are yesterday's answer to security," Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst, said in a previous interview. "We need new technology going forward. This sounds like an interesting company trying to solve a growing problem that we're all experiencing."

That means the wearable could give users the convenience of being able to move about their day without remembering passwords or carrying keys, a credit card or ID.

The Nymi works because the electrical signals in the heart are as unique as a fingerprint. Every time a person's heart muscle expand and contract, electrical pulses are produced. The device can sense that it's being worn and goes into authentication mode as soon as it's put on. If the clasp on the band opens, or if the band is cut, authentication automatically stops.

As for privacy, the user decides what apps and devices the Nymi can connect with. If you don't want the airline or your car to know you're there, they won't.

The wearable is expected to be able to handle user authentication for everything from laptops to Facebook and Twitter accounts. It also can be used with smart locks, letting people into their cars and houses, or as personal ID, giving the user access to company's offices or serving as a boarding pass at the airport.

The wearable also could work with a smart home, alerting devices like a thermostat, music player or coffee maker that the user has arrived and they need to change the temperature, play music or make a cup of coffee.

D'Souza said last month that the company has been in talks with MasterCard and its partner banks, a few airlines, hotel chains, auto makers and even government agencies.

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