The Loh Down On Science

Password Pulse

Now where did I write down that darned password?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, enough with the passwords! Isn't there an easier way?

Yes, say electrical engineers at Taiwan's National Chung Hsing University. Why, they can solve our password problems in a heartbeat! Or make that with a heartbeat.

Because everyone's heartbeat is unique. Not their heart rate, which can vary, but the beats themselves.

That's what's being captured by an electrocardiogram, or ECG. Which is the key to the new Taiwanese system.

As a person grasps two electrodes, a custom-made ECG device the size of a pager records their heartbeat.

That recording becomes part of an entire encryption system for a particular hard-drive. The system compares the recording to any future inputs. If there's a match? Login successful. No match? Login fails!

The team says heartbeat is harder to fake than other biometric data like iris reading or fingerprint scanning.

Finally--everyone's drunken karaoke iPhone photos will be safe! I think we'll all sleep a little better now....



The Loh Down on Science, online, at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology, and made possible by TIAA-CREF.

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