Future authentication methods need to be a lot harder to hack. That's the idea behind the Nymi from startup Bionym. Instead of passwords, Nymi relies on your heartbeat.
The Nymi is worn as a bracelet. It monitors your cardiac rhythm, a unique signature for each person. It is constantly authenticating your identity as it wirelessly interacts with devices. You put it on once, it authenticates you, and it keeps going until it's removed. If another person tries to use it, it will detect the different rhythm and lock that person out.
The Nymi monitors your heartbeat using an electrocardiogram sensor, but it also includes a proximity sensor and motion detector. This allows for some basic gesture controls.
A promotional video for the Nymi offers a compelling vision of the future where your car opens up as you approach, your tablet automatically logs you in, and you pay for a cup of coffee by waving your wrist at the register. More potential applications include accessing hotel rooms, adjusting room temperate, and controlling a television set.
It all looks like a lot of fun, but this sort of wireless Nymi-connected world isn't going to be ready right out of the starting gate. The bracelet is still in the prototype stage, and Bionym is encouraging developers to get involved. In the meantime, the first batch of Nymi devices will work with an app available for Android, iOS, Macs, and Windows machines.
You can go ahead and preorder a Nymi for $79. That price is good for the first 25,000 people in line. Then, it goes up to $99. Shipping is scheduled for early spring of 2014.
If Bionym can deliver on its vision, and the device proves to be accurate with authentication, then we may finally be able to send those pesky old-fashioned passwords to the dustbin where they belong.