U.S. special forces are taking a more ‘intimate’ approach to remotely identifying targets, using lasers to sense their heartbeat.
According to MIT Technology Review, the Pentagon has developed a prototype of the technology, code-named ‘Jetson,’ that uses infrared lasers to read a person’s cardiac signature.
Though far less obvious than fingerprints or faces, people’s heartbeats have a distinct profile, making them among the most useful biometrics for uniquely identifying a person.
What separates the signature from others like it, however, is the fact that unlike a face, which may bear many similar features to another, heartbeats are entirely distinct.
As noted by MIT, companies like Nymi are already using cardiac signatures — taken via a wrist-mounted pulse sensor — to identify people for security purposes.
Another advantage that has made the type of detection particularly desirable for the U.S. military is the use of lasers, which allows for a relatively long-range.
Current prototypes work from about 200 meters (219 yards) and with further modifications that range could be extended.
‘I don’t want to say you could do it from space,’ Steward Remaly, of the Pentagon’s Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office told MIT. ‘But longer ranges should be possible.’
Heartbeat patterns which are gleaned by detecting the changes in infrared light cause by a person’s blood flow, are not only highly accurate — about 95 to 98 percent — but also versatile.
Unlike facial recognition, which may require a clear view of someone’s face or be obfuscated by facial hair or other conditions, laser-detected heartbeats can be captured through normal clothing and at a number of angles.
The method does require an invisible laser to be pointed at a subject for about 30 seconds to get a sufficient read, meaning the technology can only be viably used on someone who is standing still.