In this digitalized era, your identity can be verified through so many means that it becomes close to impossible to remain anonymous.
You would think that your fingerprints, voice or the irises of your eyes provide a sufficient identity check, but nothing seems to please the government entirely.
To make sure they limit our ability to remain anonymous even further, the Pentagon is perfecting a laser that allows them to check individuals from afar by reading their heartbeat.
Studies revealed that our heartbeat carries a unique signature that “can’t be altered in any way.”
Knowing this, the government has seized the opportunity to perfect a laser system, dubbed Jetson, that identifies you from a distance based on the surface movement on the skin caused by your heartbeat.
And its range spans as far as 200 meters!
So far, the system faces some challenges similar to “other biometrics which rely on optimal conditions.”
In Jetson’s case, it cannot pierce through thick winter garb, making it efficient only for lighter clothing like shirts and T-shirts.
Another impediment is the time it takes for the reading to collect all the required information, which is around 30 seconds.
So, unless you’re sitting or standing still, the system will have a hard time identifying you.
However, Jetson has a 95 percent success rate in optimal conditions, and the government is working on ways to improve this even further.
Overall, the Pentagon’s aim is to acquire a cardiac database of people’s heartbeat signatures to better monitor and surveil us.
Although advocates of Jetson say this will be a great tool for doctors to monitor their patients’ status wirelessly, it’s easy to realize that the government doesn’t want just that.
Of course, people will be fooled into believing this “altruistic” cause and will likely share their data without knowing the system’s true purpose.
There are, however, a few weak spots this system must overcome.
We know that electrocardiograms (ECGs) bear a unique signature based on your heart’s structure.
“The existing studies on ECGs have proven that the ECGs are quite unique by nature among different individuals,” says Zhanpeng Jin, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the State University of New York-Binghamton.
However, these individual patterns can change as a result of increased/decreased physical activity, mental states (stress), or as we age.
With the system not yet perfected, there are ways in which you can escape the government’s latest form of monitoring – by exercising or practicing different types of breathing to change your heart’s unique rhythm.
Meanwhile, they “are still working on better algorithms to mitigate those influences and make the ECG-based encryption more robust and resistant to those variabilities,” Jin explains.
Until those details are resolved, this form of biometric identifier won’t make it into the mainstream.
For now, the ECG will be used as a second form of authentication in tandem with what’s available now.
And you can bet that the government will use it to identify people from a distance and gather enough data to perfect their hidden purpose.
So, if you were already distressed by the ever-increasing and sophisticated technology behind facial recognition, you now have a new thing to worry about – your cardiac signature.
Will we be able to evade the all-seeing eye of the government in the future?
I guess only time can answer this intruding question.