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"Cardi-Access" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
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A University at Buffalo-led team has developed a computer security system using the dimensions of your heart as your identifier. The system uses low-level Doppler radar to measure your heart, and then continually monitors your heart to make sure no one else has stepped in to run your computer

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Capture your heart.

I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files, from the National Science Foundation.

Username. Password. Fingerprint. Retinal scan. How'd you like to sit down at your computer without any of that and have it securely recognize that it's you? That possibility is just a (Sound effect: heart beat) heartbeat away, with a technology developed by a team led by the University at Buffalo that relies on one of your most unique features: The shape and size of your heart and how it moves. Because like fingerprints, no two human hearts are alike.

The team uses a low-level Doppler radar to measure a user's heart. Eventually the device could be miniaturized to sit at the corner of your keyboard. The first time you use it there is an 8-second learning curve for the device to get to know your particular cardiac dimensions. After that, whenever you sit down in front of it, the computer operates. And stops when you walk away. It knows you. It gets you. Anyone else who tries will be denied!

What's cool about this is it's a passive, non-contact security system. You don't have to do anything. The developers say it's safe, too. It emits less than 1 percent the radiation of a smart phone.

The team sees other applications from unlocking your phone to even airport security.

I call it "cardi-access." Lay down some beats that'll open your world.

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

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