Scientists Developing Wearable Technology To Link Medical Devices

Scientists are developing wearable biometric technology that could authenticate a user's identity and communicate with his or her medical devices, NextGov reports.

Scientists demonstrated the technology this week during the Usenix Advanced Computing System Association workshop in Bellevue, Wash.

About the Technology

The technology -- developed by Dartmouth College computer scientist Cory Cornelius and other researchers -- matches a person's bioimpedance to a unique identity. Bioimpedance is a person's physiological response to the flow of electric current passing through human tissue.

Since everyone has a different structure of blood vessels, bone and flesh, bioimpedance theoretically could be used to identify specific individuals (Lim, NextGov, 8/8). However, tests of the technology showed that it accurately recognized individuals in a household only 90% of the time.

How the Technology Would Work

The biometric technology -- which could be worn on the wrist like a watch or bracelet -- would automatically connect to other medical devices that have been implanted, ingested or placed in a person's pocket.

The individual's medical devices then would "discover each other's presence, recognize that they are on the same body ... develop shared secrets from which to derive encryption keys and establish reliable and secure communications," the scientists wrote in a research paper presented at the Usenix workshop.

Researchers noted that the biometric technology's individual authentication system could:

  • Make it difficult for hackers to tamper with medical devices;
  • Ensure the security of medical devices without requiring users to enter long passwords; and
  • Prevent situations in which two people switch medical devices (Goodin, Ars Technica, 8/7).

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