According to a study undertaken by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University of Iran, the heartbeat can be utilized as a biometric approach to identify people.

Biometrics is an area of science that studies how to identify persons and animals using biological or physical traits such as fingerprints or the eye’s iris. Biometric-based solutions are rapidly being utilized in domains like security to enhance or replace password systems, as well as in civil administration for registration and distribution of identity documents.

This study presents a novel method for identifying individuals based on the unique properties of their heartbeat. Electrocardiograms (ECG) are employed to do this, and five musical aspects are examined: dynamics, rhythm, timbre, pitch, and tonality —all of which are routinely used to describe audio files— and applied to the sound of heartbeats. As a result of these five attributes, a set of criteria is created that is unique to each person and has a 96.6% accuracy rate.

“Biometric identification based on the cardiac recording has been studied for years, proving to be effective. The main novelty of our work is that we look at the ECG recording, which is a temporary signal, as if it were a sound wave. From there, the sound wave was analyzed using the qualities that are commonly used to characterize music”, clarifies Carmen Cámara, UC3M’s Computer Science Department’s researcher.

The main benefit of this method is the universality of its identification, since, to this day, certain people still cannot be identified by certain types of biometrics such as in cases of injury, amputation, or disabling physical characteristics, but the heartbeat is a bio-signal which is present in all human beings, without exception. Another benefit is the low cost and non-invasive nature of the procedure. According to the researcher Pedro Peris-López, from UC3M’s Computer Science Department, there are already smart wristbands and watches that can record ECGs, so all that needs to be done now is install an application that employs this new algorithm.

Currently, this method is actively being developed. Although cardiac identification has a bright future, experts say they need to “continue this line of study before considering commercialization.” One of the most significant aspects of this research is analyzing the system’s behavior concerning the many activities that the person engages in, such as walking, running, relaxing, exercising, or being in a stressful environment. In addition, issues like the usage of pacemakers or the impact of arrhythmia must be considered.

Another factor to consider is the Age: “Due to our aging, the signal changes slightly over time. This means that our system must be updated approximately every five years”, the researchers say.

Story Source: Camara, C., Peris-Lopez, P., Safkhani, M., & Bagheri, N. (2022). ECGsound for human identification. Biomedical Signal Processing and Control72, 103335. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bspc.2021.103335 https://www.uc3m.es/ss/Satellite/UC3MInstitucional/en/Detalle/Comunicacion_C/1371331085966/1371215537949/An_algorithm_makes_it_possible_to_identify_people_by_their_heartbeat

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