Imagine never having to type a password, and never needing to pull out your credit card to make a payment ever again.
Well, you won’t have to imagine that for much longer. That’s all thanks to biometrics startup Bionym.
Bionym is gearing up to release Nymi, a sleek wristband that uses your heartbeat to identify you.
Bionym was founded as a spin-off from the University of Toronto, after the team spent about six years researching and developing the core technology.
The core tech is the ability to use a person’s ECG as a way to identify them, Bionym CEO Karl Martin tells Business Insider. With Nymi, the device will always know who you are.
“Now [Nymi] can do all the heavy lifting when you want to communicate your identity,” Karl says. “You don’t have to take an action. The only action is putting the wristband on. It could actually change the way people interact with technology.”
When you first put on Nymi, you have to program it via the smartphone app to determine which applications, services, etc. can have access to your identity. Every time you set up a new service, Nymi essentially generates a new key. You can also revoke access at any time.
Given that you can program multiple services into Nymi, you need to use simple gestures to indicate what you want to do with your identity.
Here are a few examples of how you could use Nymi. Let’s say Bank of America develops an app for Nymi, that means you could simply wave your wrist any time you want to pay for something.
Or, let’s say you’re deathly allergic to peanuts, have an allergic reaction, and end up unconscious on the street without your ID card. The emergency response team shows up, but they have no idea who you are or what happened to you. With Nymi, they could quickly figure out who you are, your medical history, and what you’re allergic to.
Yes, that’s kind of an extreme example, but the point is that it could also be helpful in times of an emergency. You could also theoretically use Nymi to board a plane, unlock your smartphone or smart lock. The possibilities, Karl says, are endless.
In terms of privacy and security, everything is opt-in and all of your information is encrypted.
“One thing we like to emphasise is privacy,” Karl says. “It’s opt-in. as soon as you get your Nymi and it knows it’s you, no one else knows who you are. You can’t be immediately tracked by anything. You look like noise.”
That means that the government, and not even Bionym, can know who you are unless you’ve given permission.
Bionym is also incredibly transparent. You can check out its white paper here.
“We want people to scrutinize it,” Karl says. “We want to do it right and be completely transparent.”
Bionym expects to ship its consumer models sometime mid-year. You can currently pre-order it for $US79. It plans to release its developer units within about a month. So far, there are about 6,000 developers working on Nymi integrations.
Bionym is also partnering with brands, retailers, airlines, and payment providers. It plans to announce those partnerships within the next year.
Bionym has raised $US1.4 million to date and is currently trying to raise a Series A round.
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