Friday, March 01, 2019 by Vicki Batts
The world of technology may be a modern marvel, but each innovation seems to come with its own increasingly hefty price tag. The cost of personal privacy, in particular, has come to be a top concern — whether it be in the realm of social media or the latest password technology. Retinal and fingerprint security scans have drawn ire for being an invasion of personal privacy, as well as the tremendous risks they pose. If and when information gets stolen, conventional passwords can be changed with relative ease; fingerprints and retinas, not so much. But now, it looks like scans of eyes and fingers may be a thing of the past.
Instead, developers are now looking to use the dimensions of the human heart for the next security measurement. Just in case having your cellphone scan your face wasn’t creepy enough — now they want to scan your heart.
Scientists at the University of Buffalo have pioneered the latest tech security effort which would use the dimensions of your heart to confirm your identity. But that’s not all: Sources say that the technology wouldn’t just run one scan for confirmation. Instead, low-level Doppler radar would be used to continuously monitor your heart to make sure you’re still there. Eventually, this Doppler tech may make its way into smartphones and airports.
Lead study author Wenyao Xu, Ph.D. and assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, claims that users shouldn’t be concerned about the radiation. According to Xu, the average cell phone emits more radiation than the heart-scanning system. “We are living in a Wi-Fi surrounding environment every day, and the new system is as safe as those Wi-Fi devices. The reader is about 5 milliwatts, even less than 1 percent of the radiation from our smartphones,” he contended. You might say the safety of any device that emits radiation is up for debate, however.
The team plans on unveiling their new technology at the upcoming 23rd Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Communication (MobiCom) in Utah. According to the inventors, their version of biometric scanning will be “safer” than the fingerprint and retinal scans currently in use. Xu commented, “We would like to use it for every computer because everyone needs privacy.” Apparently, these days, computers monitoring your heartbeat while you work constitutes some perverted form of “privacy.” It’s a chilling thought, isn’t it?
Real privacy in the world of tech has been under attack for quite some time now; it often seems like the true meaning of the word has been lost over the years, as companies continue to push the boundaries of what kinds of information they can coax the masses into giving up. Smart TVs, cell phones and other “smart” devices have made sure of that. And with every new innovation, there seems to be another nail in privacy’s not-so-private coffin.
Further, it would seem this new technology would suffer from the same issues as fingerprinting and retinal scans. Once an account is hacked, there is little to no recourse for the user whose information has been stolen. Changing the dimensions of your heart would undoubtedly be a rather difficult undertaking – but once those measurements are stolen, it could open doors for hackers, who often seem to be one step ahead of cybersecurity measures.