A UK company has secured funding to develop technology which one day could open doors and activate software using the heartbeat.

B-Secur’s technology uses a person’s electrocardiogram (ECG) to securely authenticate their identity, and they’ve raised £3.5m from private investors and venture capital to fund the project’s ongoing development.

“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 well-being metrics about the user such as whether they are tired, stressed or even under the influence of drink or drugs,” said Simon Rea, COO of Belfast-based B-Secur.

He added that the ECG signal can be captured in a variety of ways using different conductive materials such as metals, fabrics, and inks, as well as from different locations on the body including wrists, fingers or the chest.

“As long as our algorithms pick up a strong signal they can work across a number of different use-cases and devices,” said Rea.

“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.”

He went on to explain that the company is currently focusing on markets including Identity and Access Management where they are piloting a system of constant authorisation using the heartbeat. It allows the user to access secure areas without the need to enter codes or carry security passes.

“This product also collects vital information about the employee such as heart rate, location, and wellbeing metrics. This will ensure the safety of these employees in dangerous and highly security conscious environments.”

B-Secur has also established relationships with several partners to license their system into wearables, allowing the products to bring authentication to devices, data and apps, as well as delivering health and wellbeing stats to individuals.

In other potential developments, they are looking to bring the ECG biometrics to the cars of the future. Rea says this will allow an individual to start the engine using only their heartbeat, but additionally activate safety features alerting the driver to early signs of tiredness, or prevent the engine from starting if they are 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.”