A product called Nymi by Toronto-based manufacturer Bionym is looking to shake up the way we carry currency. Rather than archaically paying with cash or card, Nymi allows users to complete transactions via Bitcoin, making it a type of cyber wallet the world has never seen before.
The added security measure, however, is that Nymi works only if it’s worn by its original owner. Nymi uses one’s heartbeat as a biometric indicator, measuring cardiac rhythm before each purchase. This type of scan works because everyone’s heart rate has unique patterns and intricacies that are exceedingly difficult to copy – unlike fingerprints or even iris scans, which can be efficiently copied with a simple cast or photograph.
The use of the watch is straightforward. A wearer simply taps the button on the face of the watch to close a circuit and get an ECG reading. After comparing the sample to a previously recorded, “key” ECG, the watch unlocks and can be used for Bitcoin expenditure. Nymi then allows the user to use all the hardware and software development the watch utilizes, mainly by interfacing via smartphone using Bluetooth. The session stays open until the watch is taken off, and the Nymi’s battery can last up to seven days before requiring a recharge.
The sticking point for Bionym in making the watch really profitable is that not many vendors have the technology or hardware to accept its payment system, despite the company’s crusade to push third parties into building products to facilitate its catching on.
The Nymi also helps dispel Bitcoin as an untrustworthy cryptocurrency, helping to hoist it from the stigma that an ungoverned, illicit payments system is only used for the dubious aims of buying drugs and other illegal affairs. Traditionally, if one’s encryption code somehow gets hacked or is compromised in another way, there is literally no way to trace or catch the thief. Nymi solves this problem with flying colors.
Nymi will have a rough, uphill road as it attempts to compete with longstanding wallet systems like Coinbase, but by marrying biometric security with virtual currency, Biodyn makes a strong case for a ubiquitous, “smart” money system.
Also, as other smartwatches like Apple’s iWatch and Sony’s SmartWatch gain additional steam and media attention, it will be interesting to see what sort of wrist-mounted technology design consumers gravitate toward.
And to think, we used to be satisfied with just clocks on this prime area of body real estate.
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