DARPA working on heartbeat biometrics technology for use in crowds

This may sound like a Mission Impossible movie script, Infosecurity notes, but the project is very real and forms part of DARPA’s biometrics-at-a-distance project, which Infosecurity notes originally started in the last decade with the aim of scanning people’s eye biometrics at a distance.

That technology is also the subject of another Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report (2002), but the heartbeat biometric technology is almost here.

According to the US defense agency, the technology is now being enhanced to allow agents to even spot a specific individual from their heartbeat in a crowd situation.

According to Wired, in fact, back in 2006 DARPA developed a parallel technology that used radio waves to detect the breathing motion of humans through walls and doors, and in 2007 the agency invested in LifeReader, a system that radar Doppler technology to located heartbeats.

“More recently, the [US] military’s been using devices like the AN/PPS-26 STTW (Sense Through the Wall) and TiaLinx’s Eagle scanner, which can sense the presence of humans and animals through walls”, says the newswire.

And now DARPA wants to enhance these systems to operate at a distance and in sensory-hostile situations such as crowds of people.

That’s a major hurdle to pass, however, as Wired notes that existing technology hits problems at around eight inches of concrete, and taps out at a range of eight metres.

“But don’t be too scared of DARPA’s heart hunter. There are plenty of non-terrifying applications that the Pentagon’s geek shop envisions for the device”, says the newswire.

“For instance, being able to sniff out life signs at longer distances and behind thick concrete slabs could be very useful in disaster scenarios. In the aftermath of an earthquake, rescue workers could use DARPA’s longer-range biometric sensors to find survivors trapped under rubble”, the newswire adds.



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