Thursday, October 27, 2016

Apple developing new authentication technology for the smart watch based on heart rate?

After being the first to create a fingerprint sensor to authenticate its mobile devices, based on a recent patent application, Apple is working on developing a new authentication technology for its smart watch. This new biometric technology will verify a user based on their heart rate.

The technology is based on photoplethysmography (PPG), which measures minute changes in blood volume and pressure. Simplified, light emitters send light that penetrates the skin, and light sensors measure the amount of light that bounces back to the device. This measures the amount of blood flow in the user’s skin and other biometric characteristics, which can be used together to authenticate a user.

Importantly, aside from authenticating and unlocking a smart watch, the information is expected to be used to authenticate Apple Pay transactions. 

It’s not yet known whether Apple has created a working prototype. The small size of a smart watch creates a design challenge. The smart watch would have to have additional technology to verify the accuracy of the biometric reading. That’s a lot of technology to fit in a very small space. 

Next-Gen Apple Watch Models Could Identify Users Based On Their Veins Via Heart-Rate Sensor, Patent Application Says

By Chris Loterina, Tech Times, October 17, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Innovative young engineer designs smart gun to advance gun safety

Strongly motivated to work towards gun safety technology by the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado native Kai Kloepfer of Biofire Technologies has designed and introduced the first smart gun working prototype. He aims for production within a year to two years.

Kai's smart gun improves gun safety by restricting gun use to authorized users. A biometric fingerprint sensor is positioned in the gun's grip where the shooter’s middle finger normally rests. Continuous contact with the sensor allows the gun to remain live.

The sensor doesn’t work through gloves or drenched skin, but will work with hands that are sweaty. Currently it takes about 1-1/2 seconds for the sensor to work and release the internal trigger lock. The goal is to decrease the time to only half a second. The gun can store 10 fingerprints, allowing other trusted users to be able to operate gun.

The smart gun has already has detractors due to physical limitations, but also due to politics. As some politicians are already working towards pushing technology as a means of gun control, some Second Amendment supporters are seeking to prevent smart guns from making inroads into the gun market.

Kai is not a supporter of forcing smart gun technology on anyone, rather he wants to offer consumers a choice in the marketplace. He sees a smart gun as good fit with younger gun owners who have grown up with smart phones and devices, and who are comfortable with and advocates of smart technology.

By Jacki Billings,, 10/17/16

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A more secure way to send your passwords? Through your body.

Digital fingerprint photo

Password information sent through air using wi-fi or Bluetooth is vulnerable to hacking. Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered a way to send password information more securely – through one’s body. Visualize one hand touching a smart phone screen and the other touching an electronic smart lock. Researchers have found a way for a smartphone to read and send the password information through the body to a unlock a door. Another use could be sending readings from one's body to a wearable medical devices, such as a glucose sensor.

UW’s research team studied smartphone sensors to find the point where benign low frequency transmissions generated by fingerprint sensors travel well through the body, but are not transmitted through the air. They found that the 2 to 10 megahertz range was just enough to sense the finger and identify the ridges and valleys that form a unique fingerprint pattern. In their testing, researchers found that the data could be transmitted successfully regardless of individual body type, the posture of the body, or whether the body was stationary or in motion. 

Researchers found a way to repurpose the signals normally received as input from the smartphone sensors or laptop trackpads to output corresponding to a password. They were able to send data through the body and to a receiver within seconds. 

These finding are only a first step. Researchers hope to be able to work with fingerprint sensor manufacturers, specifically to have better access to their software, to continue to refine and speed up transmission. To learn more about the team and see illustrations of this concept, follow the link below.

Secure passwords can be sent through your body, instead of air

Jennifer Langston, UW Today, September 27, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Homeland Security expanding biometric security checks for international travel

Several of the perpetrators responsible for the 9/11 plane hijackings were in the U.S. because they overstayed their visas. One way this was done was by having an accomplice fly out of the country using another’s passport. Biometric data collection at U.S. borders began in 2004 in part to prevent the swapping of identities, one person flying out of the country on the expired visa, the other person staying on using the unexpired visa.   

Fingerprint scanning is set to be in place at the nation’s busiest airports by 2018. The Department of Homeland Security plans to increase facial image and iris scans as well, taking advantage of new technology. The goal is to make border crossings efficient and secure for both U.S. citizens and foreign visitors.

Currently U.S. citizen biometric information is discarded after verification is made, and non-U.S. citizen data, including biometric information, is kept for 75 years. With the expansion of border security and biometric data collection, privacy concerns include the increase in surveillance, data retention time, and the government’s ability to safeguard that data from hackers. For the latter, it is recommended that the date be encrypted and have “cancellable properties” to render stolen data useless.

The cost for the expanded biometric data capture program is not yet known as the DHS is still deciding which system to go with.

By Malena Carollo, Contributor to the Christian Science Monitor, September 9, 2016