Skip to main content

Heartbeat passwords could be an affordable way to protect medical records

40576178 - red puzzle heart with stethoscope on brown wooden background
Whether it’s instantaneous diagnoses or simply making patients more directly responsible for their own wellbeing, there are plenty of things that are exciting about the tech-driven healthcare revolution. But one major question mark regarding individuals’ access to their health records is the issue of security and privacy — and how to put this into place in an affordable way.

According to a new piece of research, investigators at Binghamton University in New York — including Professor Zhanpeng Jin, Linke Guo, and PhD candidates Pei Huang and Borui Li — think the best way to do it might be by using a patient’s own unique, distinctive heartbeat as a form of password.

“The proposed solution applies one extra layer of security protection on patients’ health data collected from emerging wearable gadgets or mobile devices,” Professor Jin of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering told Digital Trends. “The key goal is to reduce the computational overhead involved in protecting the sensitive personal health data.”

The idea revolves around the fact that, in many cases, electrocardiograms (ECGs) have been collected from patients for a clinical diagnostic purpose. As a result, there is the added possibility of reusing them as a security key for protection purposes with a minimum cost.

Accessing medical records could then be achieved by their rightful owner using a biosensor attached to the skin.

This isn’t the first time Jin has investigated the possibility of biometrics to establish a person’s identity. Previous work, which this current project builds on, involved reading a person’s unique “brain prints” to grant them access to computers or buildings. As Jin explained, ECG readings aren’t 100 percent perfect yet, but they could work effectively alongside another form of a password.

“Compared to existing biometric approaches, no matter the conventional fingerprint or the advanced brain print we proposed before, ECGs are more vulnerable to variations, which may be caused by individuals’ physical activities [or] mental states,” Jin said. “That’s also the reason that ECG hasn’t been widely adopted in identifying and authenticating individuals, as a standard biometric. [But] the unique nature of ECG can make it [valuable] as a perfect secondary authentication approach, especially for this telemedicine or mobile health domain, because ECG is one of most significant physiological signals that must be acquired for clinical purpose.”

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Meet the game-changing pitching robot that can perfectly mimic any human throw
baseball hitter swings and misses

Who’s your favorite baseball pitcher? Shane McClanahan? Sandy Alcantara? Justin Verlander? Whoever you said, two of the top sports-tech companies in the U.S. -- Rapsodo and Trajekt Sports -- have teamed up to build a robot version of them, and the results are reportedly uncannily accurate.

Okay, so we’re not talking about walking-talking-pitching standalone robots, as great a sci-fi-tinged MLB ad as that would be. However, Rapsodo and Trajekt have combined their considerable powers to throw a slew of different technologies at the problem of building a machine that's able to accurately simulate the pitching style of whichever player you want to practice batting against -- and they may just have pulled it off, too.

Read more
The best portable power stations
EcoFlow DELTA 2 on table at campsite for quick charging.

Affordable and efficient portable power is a necessity these days, keeping our electronic devices operational while on the go. But there are literally dozens of options to choose from, making it abundantly difficult to decide which mobile charging solution is best for you. We've sorted through countless portable power options and came up with six of the best portable power stations to keep your smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets functioning while living off the grid.
The best overall: Jackery Explorer 1000

Jackery has been a mainstay in the portable power market for several years, and today, the company continues to set the standard. With three AC outlets, two USB-A, and two USB-C plugs, you'll have plenty of options for keeping your gadgets charged.

Read more
CES 2023: HD Hyundai’s Avikus is an A.I. for autonomous boat and marine navigation
Demonstration of NeuBoat level 2 autonomous navigation system at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

This content was produced in partnership with HD Hyundai.
Autonomous vehicle navigation technology is certainly nothing new and has been in the works for the better part of a decade at this point. But one of the most common forms we see and hear about is the type used to control steering in road-based vehicles. That's not the only place where technology can make a huge difference. Autonomous driving systems can offer incredible benefits to boats and marine vehicles, too, which is precisely why HD Hyundai has unveiled its Avikus AI technology -- for marine and watercraft vehicles.

More recently, HD Hyundai participated in the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, to demo its NeuBoat level 2 autonomous navigation system for recreational boats. The name mashes together the words "neuron" and "boat" and is quite fitting since the Avikus' A.I. navigation tech is a core component of the solution, it will handle self-recognition, real-time decisions, and controls when on the water. Of course, there are a lot of things happening behind the scenes with HD Hyundai's autonomous navigation solution, which we'll dive into below -- HD Hyundai will also be introducing more about the tech at CES 2023.

Read more