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Smart Watches – Next-Gen Authenticating Devices

by CISO Connect

Latest Smart-watches are being used as authentication devices. Is this the beginning trend of wearable authentication devices?

Wearable technology has always been a trend amongst us and slowly they are being used for security applications. If one keeps a tab on recent launches of wearable technology based gadgets especially smart-watches, they are being used for enhancing security by integrating embedded biometric readers or for authentication devices through two-factor or three-factor authentication.

In March this year the CEO of Neptune Computers (makers of ‘Neptune Pine’ Android smart-watch) Simon Tian said that they are partnering with the makers of Misfit’s Shine wearable, ‘Pearl Studios’ to bring out a wearable technology based device that could be used to authenticate computers or automatically open doors or used as a key to authenticate anything in our life. Even-though their collaboration and plans to bring out the product by early next year appears to be shaky, it has opened the way for wearable technology based gadgets focused on authentication.

Listed below are some of the emerging technologies in wearable technology based devices used for authentication purpose.

Iris based Authentication Device

FiDELYS smart-watch which is based on Iris recognition technology and liveness detection is an interesting wearable tech gadget to watch out for because the makers of FiDELYS watch claim that it can be used to authenticate online shopping, banking transaction, access control, etc. In addition the smart-watch can also be used for every aspects of our daily life by developing more authentication based applications. Unlike fingerprints, it is said that the probability of two identical persons having the same Iris is only one in 2 trillion people. If it were even couple of years back, none of us even could have thought that using products like FiDELYS by looking into the smart-watch (through Iris based single sign-on authentication) could grant you access to your email account without the need of traditional passwords or passcode.

ECG based Authentication Device

Unlike the Iris based authentication, the Bionym Nymi wristband is an ECG (Electro-Cardiogram) based authentication wearable technology gadget. Its makers claim that Bionym Nymi measures the ECG signature of the person’s heart wearing the wristband. Interestingly, it was forty years ago that ECG was known to have unique characteristics similar to a person’s finger-print. The Bionym Nymi wristband has an embedded ECG sensor, which recognizes the unique pattern of its user’s heartbeat, and communicates with devices instead of passwords. Thus the Bionym Nymi completely bypasses passwords and PINS. Its creators say that Nymi functions as a three-factor security system as it requires a person’s personalized Nymi, unique heartbeat characteristics, and an Authorized Authentication Device (AAD) which could be a smart-phone or a tablet that has been registered to an application. Nymi also offers users privacy which allows you to control and access your identity and personal information.

Android Lollipop & Wearable Watches

Google’s much anticipated Android Lollipop based wearable watches being used to authenticate Google’s Chromebooks, (Google’s laptop Operating System) or a smart-phone could be the next biggest game-changer from Google. This means that Google does not need the usual passwords or any other codes to authenticate users. In other words, Google’s Chromebooks could be unlocked without the need of password if a user’s Android Lollipop device is physically present near the Chromebook. Google through the Android Lollipop has thus made the Android wearable watches an essential component for authentication of Chromebook, along-with with other set of Android based devices.

Road Ahead

The new generation wearable technology devices can replace passwords and passcode by providing better privacy through next generation biometric authentication devices. The whole idea of integrating security with wearable technology devices is to provide maximum security and user convenience without compromising both of these factors. They also tend to fasten the authentication process without the need for traditional passwords or passcodes and keyboard input devices.

So does the smart-watch based authentication device mean the end of conventional passwords and passcode? Even though such technology and products are thriving in the market, it’s still not been tested, proven and accepted by the masses. Probably after a few years wearable technology based smart-watches or wearable technology devices could literally be the key for authenticating everything in our lives!


By: R Manoj. The author is a Freelance Writer.


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