A Belfast company has received funding to accelerate the development of technology that could one day start cars with a heartbeat.
B-Secur, whose biometric technology uses an individual’s electrocardiogram (ECG) to quickly and securely authenticate identity, has raised £3.5m comprising £1.5m from Accelerated Digital Ventures, £750,000 from the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund (NI), and the remainder from private investors.
“The unique features of using a heartbeat to authenticate individuals is that not only can you identify the user but you can also tell a number of wellbeing metrics about the user such as whether they are tired, stressed or even under the influence of drunk or drugs,” said Simon Rea, COO of B-Secur.
He added via email that the ECG signal can be captured using a number of different conductive materials such as metals, fabrics, or inks and also from a number of different locations on the body including wrists, fingers, or chest.
“As long as our algorithms pick up a strong signal they can work across a number of different use-cases and devices,” he said. “This ultimately allows this type of technology to be applied across a number of technology devices as there is no need for a specific sensor or capture point.”
Rea added that the company is focusing on a variety of markets including Identity and Access Management where B-Secur is piloting a product that allows a user to be continuously authenticated using their heartbeat, and access secure areas without having to enter codes or hold security passes.
“This product also collects vital information about the employee such as heart rate, location, and wellbeing metrics,” he said. “This will ensure the safety of these employees in dangerous and highly security conscious environments.”
B-Secur is also working with partners to licence their algorithms into wearables of the future, which will allow these products to bring authentication to devices, data and apps and also health and wellbeing metrics to individuals.
The company is also exploring bringing ECG technology to cars of the future. According to Rea, this would allow users to start their engine using their heartbeat and then provide safety features that would alert drivers to early signs of tiredness, or prevent the engine from starting if they were under the influence of drink or drugs.
“We are currently piloting our technology with a number of Identity and Access Management partners; these pilots are allowing us to test our technology at scale in live environments,” said Rea. “Our next steps [are] to develop licensing agreements with technology partners which will allow us to bring our algorithms to the biometrics market at scale.”