Forget passwords: Your body is the new key

Weary of all those PINs and cryptic codes? New technologies may soon use your unique biometrics to confirm your identity.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 9, 2014 1:02PM

A customer configuring the fingerprint scanner technology built into iPhone 5S at an Apple store in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)CNBC on MSN MoneyBy Cadie Thompson, CNBC

Tired of remembering dozens of passwords? Your body may be the only key you will need in the future.

A lot of tech companies at the Consumer Electronic Show are touting biometrics as a way to make authentication easier and safer.

In fact, your body may be the key to unlocking everything from your personal devices and personal Internet accounts to even paying your bills, said Karl Martin, CEO of Bionym, the maker of a wearable device that uses certain biometrics to authenticate a person's identity.

"It's about making identity easy. Right now, identity is hard. What if identity were easy, what are the things you could do?" Martin said. "It's this idea that services and your personal accounts and your information can just follow you and all you need is your identity."

Much like how Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 5S uses a fingerprint sensor to authenticate the user's identity, Bionym's bracelet -- called the Nymi -- uses sensors to capture a person's unique cardiac rhythm, or ECG, to wirelessly unlock or gain control of their devices.

So whenever a person is wearing their Nymi, they automatically have access to their devices without having to enter a password.

But Martin said the company has bigger plans for the technology than just unlocking devices. He wants the Nymi biometric bracelet to serve as a platform for all kinds of consumer purposes.

"When we started to put this concept out there, a lot of people said this is an enterprise security solution. And there's no doubt it can be used for that, but we are much more excited about the consumer potential," he said. "The idea that we could get rid of all these passwords and pins that we manage, but also that it could unleash all kinds of new experiences."

For example, one area Martin is working with partners to implement Nymi's technology is in the retail space.

If someone was wearing their Nymi and walked into a smart retailer, the moment they walked in the store could recognize the person's identity, given the wearer opted in for this information to be shared. This not only opens up new ways for a retailer to personalize the shopping experience, but it also could potentially open up a new way for people to pay.

"Because they know who you are by the time you walk in so by the time you are done shopping and you want to pay for it, we could specify a gesture that says you indicate that you want to pay. You don't need to line up with cash, nevermind even having to tap your wrist, they already know who you are, they just require authorization to pay for it," Martin said.

"It's really about making payments really simple and seamless," he said.

Nymi's platform currently has more than 6,000 developers creating various applications like this. And Bionym is also helping certain partners, which consist primarily of big corporations, develop their own ways of using the device.

Most of the industries that are building applications for Nymi include companies in hospitality, retail, airlines and in automotive, Martin said, however he would not disclose any specific partnerships.

Unlike a lot of wearable device companies that make money off selling the hardware, Bionym is focused on creating new ways of doing business, Martin said.

"Our business ultimately is not going to be about making money off the wristband. We really want the technology and the capability out there," he said.

"We're a platform ultimately, we're in identity management and we're unleashing identity for different applications. There's a variety of ways we can make money in terms of partnerships and everything. For the consumer, we just want to have this capabilities."

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Jan 9, 2014 2:55PM
I prefer to pay the old fashioned way...with cash and ask for a discount.  I dont even give em my zip code when they ask for it.  If they insist I tell em 90210
Jan 9, 2014 2:57PM
Mark my words technology will be the death of the world before it is all over.
Jan 9, 2014 2:55PM
No thank you I don't want or need this BS It may start out as a convenience but someone will figure out how to use it for total control of everything we do. Total control = total power total power means abuses of all kinds take a look around and tell me its not already happing
Jan 9, 2014 2:31PM
Someone will find a way to hack that to.
Jan 9, 2014 2:43PM

I agree that biometrics can have a role to play in identification.  However, I think we have to look at potential issues with the technology as well.  If you have a bracelt that collects your electrical field as a "Key", as soon as someone designs a collection device with higher sensitvity, they can collect the "keys" of everyone that passes by the sensor.  Secure keys always involve some type of active action (Key, combination, code).  Strictly passive keys (biofields) would not meet the standard.  In fact, the very concept of a store monitoring entry of a shoper with their "Key" implies that it is easy to distinguish separate keys and tailor responses to them.  Not that secure actually.  In addition, if the store can monitor your entry/egress/purchase; so can any other group.  It creates another monitoring point that is separate from what we already have (phones, ipads, smartphones, e-books).  Really, how many ways to people need to locate where you are at?

Jan 9, 2014 3:06PM
Jan 9, 2014 2:50PM

There is no way that Biometrics will replace pins. Biometrics scan can be copied and used by some one ales. Iphone 5S is a good example. A PIN or password can always be changed if suspicious activity is detected but a Biometric scan can not. If someone copies your biometric scan they will always have it,

Jan 9, 2014 2:55PM
The future and demise of the world was written years ago. It's in the book of Revelation. Obamacare is another gateway that opens the door to "kiss your soul goodbye".
Notice the key to this article was glorifying shopping and having the whole world know your buying habits.    How about using it to monitor your health with your personal doctor?  You dial up your doctor and they monitor your vitals.  Got diabetes?  They monitor your sugar count.  Got heart problems, they monitor your heat rate and blood pressure.  What is your temperature?  What is your weight?  Alot better than, can this guy afford a new coat?  None of your damn business.
Jan 9, 2014 3:25PM
HA! Almost every comment is negative, GO AMERICA!
Jan 9, 2014 3:24PM
Wow. Something else to charge thousands for. What a new concept.
Jan 9, 2014 3:12PM

My password will be on every doorknob and will never change in 50 years. Mythbusters has already hacked it.

Jan 9, 2014 3:07PM
Just read up on contact lenses and changing patterns in your fingerprints.  Ha Ha to the Feds......the joke is on you!
Jan 9, 2014 2:49PM
Yeah, still the info like they do now, and print it from a 3D printer.
Jan 9, 2014 4:35PM
They're just softening people up for the total destruction of our Constitutional rights.
Jan 9, 2014 3:48PM
They already gave us a way to hack it. It's wireless... Hey, at least it's not keeping track of my retina, finger prints, or facial points. Nor is it an implanted chip, but it's still not really secure. They will need databases, and networks which are all too vulnerable. On top of that, a new "pay" feature thats wireless? Please, I will be a millionaire! Like I won't steal the $$$ in it's wireless packets midstream... come on now :-p

Jan 9, 2014 4:30PM

if someone steals the biometric wristband it would compromise the person's info just like a stolen credit card, which is what they're talking about, a chip card that you can wear.  because it too, can be lost, the next logical step will be to imprint or implant the information on the back of the hand or the forehead.  Paul wrote about this 2000 years ago.  we are approaching the mark of the beast.  I told Nadja this thirty years ago, to warn her because I loved her as a friend.  There will come a time when the need for faith actually vanishes, as the choice between good and evil, prophesied in the early Christian era, becomes too clear to ignore.  Some will be deceived, but most will make the simple choice of God or the devil.


The name of Jesus will conquer.

Jan 9, 2014 4:17PM
Three months ago the same news source called biometrics a "Stupid idea without and redeeming value".  Now that it works, it's brilliant.  For  the uninformed commentators, you have to steal the phone and the ID.  To prevent this, Apple has an app which will disable and locate a stolen phone.  A neighbor used it and it works like ...  well 5 to 10 years and the police had the crook, his fence and accomplices within 24 hours.
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