July 23, 2012 at 4:45 PM ET
Shoes outfitted with high-tech soles that can confirm a person’s identity in just a few steps may soon serve as our keycards and computer passwords, and could even let doctors know when we show signs of dementia.
They work by combing physical and behavioral biometrics — measurements of a foot’s shape and person’s gait, for example.
Both the shape of our feet and how we walk are unique, explained Todd Gray, chairman and president of Autonomous ID.
An algorithm fuses this information to create an anonymous ID that is stored on a tiny chip in the insole.
“Not even the user knows what it is,” he told me.
This ID is used, for example, to unlock your door you are within a few feet of it.
“There is nothing to remember, nothing to swipe, nothing to touch, no backend system to incorporate the authenticity of the biometric,” he said.
Gray said he started working on the concept in 2007 when Iraqi insurgents dressed in U.S. uniforms walked onto a base and abducted U.S. soldiers.
The concept is considered more secure and private than, say, using a fingerprint or eye scan to gain entry to a high security area.
“If your thumb is the only access into a door, they are going to cut it off,” Gray said. “This is war.”
Autonomous ID partnered this July with Carnegie Mellon University’s Pedo-Biometrics Research and Identity Automation Lab to authenticate and fine tune the technology.
The lab is to receive $1.5 million per year in funding for the venture.
The team will also probe the potential to use the technology as a way to detect early warning signs of diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia, which can affect how we walk.
Changes in gait, which the insole would notice, could be monitored for a few weeks, explained Mario Savvides, the lab’s director.
“We haven’t started working on this yet, but once we do, it is going to open up a whole new world of possibility,” he told me.
--Via The Verge