One of the most interesting things happening in wearables today is that they can serve as digital avatars of our physical selves. Some wearables, like Nymi, actually let our physical selves act as digital gateways. This is important stuff–our very identities are at play. Nymi is a Toronto-based startup that uses biometric ECG technology to create the first continuous biometric authenticated wearable. We spoke with Nymi’s VP of Strategy, Shawn Chance, to learn more.
Nymi is an authentication technology company which was founded in Toronto, Canada in 2011. Our first product, the Nymi Band, is a wearable authenticator that uses one’s heartbeat as a unique biometric identifier. As a wearable device, the Nymi Band can enable continuous authentication, meaning that a user authenticates to the band and that authentication persists for as long as it’s worn on the intended wearer’s wrist. The Nymi Band can be used to unlock computers, make contactless payments, access physical spaces and enable personalized experiences in an IoT context.
What was your inspiration behind creating The Nymi Band?
The Nymi Band was created to enable secure and convenient authentication. In today’s world, there is an overload of passwords, pins, keys, and the like that we as individuals are tasked with remembering. Not only do they create headaches for the users, but they also pose a security risk, particularly in the enterprise space. By making authentication an experience that is both secure and convenient, we are freeing the user from having to think about, let alone become burdened by authentication.
What sets The Nymi Band apart from other wearables?
The Nymi Band is the first biometrically authenticated wearable, enabling authentication that persists on the body. The Nymi Band is built on years of research for using one’s electrocardiogram (or ECG) as a unique biometric identifier, but also contains a continuity circuit that can detect when it is (and is not) on the user’s wrist. This combination of biometric and continuous authentication make the Nymi Band a unique and differentiated solution.
Tell us about your HeartID technology.
HeartID™ is Nymi’s proprietary algorithm for authenticating a user based on their heartbeat. During the enrollment phase, a user will provide the device with a sample of their ECG waveform to create their biometric template. For future instances of authentication, the HeartID algorithm will extract certain characteristics of the ECG, and match them against the initial template that the user created. While incredibly complex, this technology ensures that only the intended user is authenticated to their Nymi Band.
What was your greatest challenge when making The Nymi Band and what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
Emerging technologies are highly dependant on timing, both from a market-readiness standpoint but also from a speed-to-market standpoint. On the latter, we initially had planned on shipping our product to market back in 2014 but made a conscious decision not to do so, as the product was not up to our standards yet. The deeper we get into the authentication space, the more we realize that we’re working on something incredibly complex, but also something that’s really important. Solving big problems takes time.
Where can we buy The Nymi Band, when is it available, and what is the cost?
The Nymi Band is available today, as a developer product (The Nymi Band Discovery Kit), and it can be purchased online on our website. It costs $149, and can be used by developers to write applications that work with the Nymi Band as a part of our ecosystem. We have not announced a date for the enterprise launch of our product.
What can we expect next from Nymi?
We’re continuing to explore, test, and learn-from various use cases that we are currently piloting with our various partners. From tokenized payments to physical and logical access and the Internet of Things, we’re pursuing several different spaces in which the Nymi Band can be of value as a continuous authenticator. We’re excited about what the future will look like with secure, continuous authentication.
To learn more about Nymi check out their website here and watch the video below.
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