Start-up secures bitcoin wallet on bracelet with heartbeat as key

Canadian start-up Bionym has developed a bracelet on which bitcoins in a virtual wallet can be secured by encrypting and decrypting them based on the wearer’s electrocardiogram.

The so-called Nymi bracelet can emulate a bitcoin wallet. The virtual wallet stores bitcoins that are secured with a private key. There are various software packages that serve as wallets, while there are also online services in which bitcoins can be stored. In most cases, however, a password must be entered, a potentially dangerous method.

The Nymi, which will cost $79 with the upcoming introduction, should offer an accessible biometric alternative. The bracelet creates an electrocardiogram of the wearer’s heart activity. Because the pattern is unique for each person, listening to the heartbeat offers a secure authentication method, according to Canadian start-up Bionym.

If a wearer of the Nymi wants to identify himself, the heartbeat pattern is sent via bluetooth to the device that has to grant the access. This happens as soon as the user taps the strap several times. The bracelet also includes accelerometer and a gyroscope to perform certain tasks with certain hand movements.

In addition to authentication and a bitcoin wallet, Nymi wants to develop a backup method for the private key. This is necessary if the user loses the bracelet. Integration with online wallet services such as Coinbase and is also on the agenda.