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Patent registered for heart rhythms as biometric ID; researchers work on security

Categories Biometric R&D  |  Biometrics News
Patent registered for heart rhythms as biometric ID; researchers work on security

Japanese researchers say they have registered for a United States patent on using electrocardiogram waveforms as a biometric identifier, but at almost the same time, a South Korea-U.S. research team is warning that “incautious” ECG system design can leak personal data.

The Korean and U.S. scientists have written a paper explaining an ECG authentication method that they say preserves privacy.

Patent registration is the first of many steps inventors take to protect their intellectual property. A patent award, if one is made, occurs many months or years after registration.

Simplex Quantum has completed its patent registration (11,500,975 B2) to protect a way to accurately authenticate a person’s electrocardiogram biometrics. Simplex Quantum worked with the Public University Corp. of the University of Aizu.

(The company raised 550 million yen (US$4 million) in a series A round December 5. Simplex Holdings, Technology Ventures No. 5 and Itochu Corp. made the investment.)

Simplex Quantum previously had registered a U.S. patent for an algorithm that spotted the heart-failure stage using ECG waveforms.

This fall, the journal Security and Communication Networks published work by scientists from Korea University; the University of California, Berkeley; and Kwangwoon University noting security vulnerabilities in using the data for authentication and proposing a solution.

They propose using a genetic algorithm that classifies points of privacy sensitivity – suggesting age, gender and heart disease – and other ECG-related points that are not privacy-sensitive. The latter, according to the paper, can be used with “high accuracy” without divulging identifiers.

In fact, the researchers say their method is at least 85 percent accurate.

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