The new Jetson prototype, developed for US Special Forces, can recognise a person by their heartbeat from a distance of approximately 200 metres (219 yards), even through clothing.
Unlike the traditional infrared devices which are used in the medical industry to detect changes in blood flow, this device uses a different technique known as laser vibrometry, which identifies the surface movement caused by the heartbeat, as reported by MIT Technology Review.
A small, invisible laser will be pointed towards a target for about 30 seconds to catch the Cardiac Signatures. At present, this prototype can target only for a sitting or standing person. The only lacuna being that this device can work perfectly on shirts and other thin clothing, but cannot work on thick clothing like winter jackets.
Are Cardiac Signatures the future of face recognition?
Yes. Face recognition technology has its limitations. It is not suitable for long distances. On the other hand, Cardiac signature technology can be used over long distances and is 95% to 98% accurate. This technique can also be used alongside the facial recognition and can further improve the probability.
The debate over facial recognition technology is not over yet, and here we have this another new technique. Apart from structural problems such as the requirement of a Cardiac Signature Database, ethical concerns are there over the proper use of this technology. Another kind of data (Cardiac Signature) will now be extracted from humans. Coupled with other biometric data like iris signatures, thumb impressions or gait signatures, this metadata will be a complete record of an individual — this creates privacy concerns.
If the government decides to create a Cardiac Database of its citizens, what will happen to those who will dissent? Or what will be the methodology used by the government? Will it tap the heart recordings of the hospitals or use some other method?
Is the future grim?
Not really. Parliament should table a clear and precise bill on the issue. Each stakeholder, the citizens, the military, the scientific community, as well as the intelligence community, should be taken onboard. The bill should mention on various aspects of data collection and should have the provisions for those who do not want their signatures to be made.
The people should also be told about the drawbacks and positives of these devices.
Although, it is not in immediate future that such a step of creating a Cardiac Database will be taken up by the government. But, if the technology works fine and shows the results, then we can expect something on the lines of DNA Database. Only time will tell the future of this mind-blowing new technology.
Former Senior Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant has a keen interest in social issues and international relations.