Everyone has a distinct heartbeat. Just like our irises, or our fingerprints, one’s heartbeat or cardiac signature that can be used to identify someone.
From a specific distance.
It is this very feature that has attracted the attention of US Special Forces who had previously instituted another long-range biometric technique that measured one’s gait to identify them. It was used to locate an ISIS rebel during one of the drone strikes, but later it was found out that gait, along with face wasn’t that unique a feature.
New technology has been engineered by the Pentagon after being specifically requested by the US Special Forces. It identifies one without looking at their face; it identified their heartbeat. Steward Reamly of the Pentagon’s Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office mentions that its application from space might be a far-fetched theory, but it would still be extremely applicable in a range of 200 metres using an advanced infrared laser.
Contact Infrared Lasers have been used before to measure and identify changes in one’s blood flow caused in contact with the laser. In contrast to that, this new technology called Jetson would gather one’s surface heartbeat through laser vibrometry. This can be used over lighter clothes, but not heavy woollen stuff.
The common biometric identification has always been facial recognition but there are problems for that. One needs a good sight of the face, which is not always possible with a drone. Also, it can be hoodwinked through beards, sunglasses and scarves.
Cardiac signature has already been in use by the Canadian company Nymi, which gives every employee a pulse monitor in lieu of fingerprint identification. This is also being checked by the Halifax building society in the United Kingdom.
Jetson goes a step forward in developing a device that would be used to track vibrations from a distance, such as a wind turbine. In this device, a special gimbal has been implemented that would shoot an invisible laser and fixate itself on a target. The catch is, it would take thirty seconds to get a result, so the target has to be stable during the time.
More Advanced Than Face Recognition
Remaly’s team has successfully constructed an algorithm that would track one’s cardiac signature through the laser. With a 95% success rate of recognition under positive conditions, he believes that can be improved to a greater degree. It is unlikely that Jetson would be the sole security feature, and it should possibly accompany other measures.
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Wenyao Xu of NYSU (New York State University) has also brought forth a cardiac monitor, but that simply works on radar and between a distance of 0- 20 metres. Despite that, he believes that cardiac signatures are more stable than facial recognition, and offer higher security.
Although there is one giant shortcoming, that being the absence of a cardiac signature database. Despite that, it would still be useful. For instance, an insurgent trying to plant an IED can be identified through his cardiac signature, even if his identity (name) is unknown. Also, since the US army regularly gather biometrics of Iraqis and Afghans, all of which could be stored in.
In the near future, its application could go beyond armed forced, and into nursing, and medical diagnosis.
We just have to wait and watch.
IMAGE CREDIT: cooldesign