While the new Apple iPhone X might boast of advanced biometrics with its Face Unlock facial recognition system, there are new authentication systems in the fray — researchers at the University of Buffalo, New York, have developed a new authentication system that can scan a user’s heart’s shape and size from a distance and use it to authenticate devices.

The authentication system uses cardiac scans to form an authentication system that does not require any contact with the user.

“Logging-in and logging-out are tedious,” Wenyao Xu, assistant professor at the University of Buffalo’s department of computer science and engineering and the lead author on the paper said in press release on the University of Buffalo website. He also stated that the research's mechanism would be the first device to be a non-contact one characterizing heart geometry.

The device uses a low-level Doppler radar to continuously scan a user’s heart’s shape and size and can even authenticate people over distances of up to 98 feet.

It will also be less harmful than Wi-Fi and other smartphone authentication systems, which emit harmful SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) radiation, since it uses a 5 milliwatts reader, which will emit less than 1 percent of radiation currently emitted by smartphones.

It requires 8 seconds when the user uses it for the first and thereafter it can continuously recognize a heart, which means that a user will not need to either remember or enter multiple passwords. This also means that a device such as PC will not unlock unless the authenticated user is in front of it and as soon as he/she moves away, it will be locked again.

Currently, it uses a large apparatus, but the researchers want to miniaturize the system so that it will fit on the corners of keyboards and even on smartphones.

According to Xu, the system might have large-scale applications and could be used at airports as well as while unlocking individual devices, ensuring better privacy than current systems. It will definitely be superior to passwords or patterns, which can be leaked or disclosed easily or an intruder could simply unlock a device using hit and trial. According to the research paper titled “Cardiac Scan: A Non-Contact and Continuous Heart-Based User Authentication System,” it will also be more cost-effective than current systems.

 However, the system could be marred by some privacy and security concerns since a person could be easily forced to authenticate the device by going near it. Not only that, while authentication over large distances might be useful for airports, such authentication, unless the range is limited, will easily unlock devices over a large distance and give others access to devices belying the whole purpose of authentication. Chances are, as the technology gets miniaturized, the range will become limited too.

Another concern might be that even though no two human hearts have been found to be identical, a person’s heart could change due to heart disease and the device might end up not recognizing him/her causing problems.