ECG (also known as EKG), short for electrocardiogram, is a common medical test that measures the electrical activity and rhythm of your heart to show how it’s functioning. An ECG and related heart data can be obtained from sensors that are attached to the body. These electrodes detect the tiny electrical changes on the skin that arise from the heart muscle depolarizing during each heartbeat. ECG sensors are now much smaller, more seamless, and more powerful than ever, and can be easily integrated into wearables, smart clothing, and connected cars.
Everyone’s cardiac rhythm is unique, which makes ECG also a powerful metric to determine identity. This uniqueness arises from a range of factors, including the shape and size of the heart and its orientation and position within the body. As such, these physiological characteristics of the body are a promising means to simplify the setup process and improve the security of body-area sensor networks (BANs). Examples of BANs include fitness trackers, chest sensors, smart wristbands, tracking of emergency response teams, and medical implantable devices such as heart pacemakers and insulin pumps.
Analog Devices and B-Secur Ltd. this week announced they will collaborate on development of a complete ECG-based biometric authentication solution for use in automotive vehicles. Combining ADI’s signal-conditioning technology with B-Secur’s ECG biometric algorithm software will, the companies anticipate, allow automobiles to uniquely authenticate and identify drivers and passengers.
The technology also aims to detect driver readiness and wellness by monitoring the driver’s vital signs for any irregularities. In addition, the ECG identification capability can be used to access features such as vehicle entry, immobilizer deactivation, infotainment personalization, online payments for ridesharing usage, personalized insurance payments, and more.
ECG technology also aims to detect driver readiness and wellness by monitoring the driver’s vital signs for any irregularities.
One main challenge to traditional ECG sensors is their relatively low dc offset voltage, with raw signal amplitude below 0.5 mV. On top of that, additional noise originates not only from the device, but also by the environment. As a result, to properly extract, filter, stabilize, amplify, and clean the signal requires the signal-processing expertise of a company like Analog Devices.
For example, the company’s AD8233 is an integrated signal-conditioning block for ECG and other biopotential measurement applications. It’s designed to extract, amplify, and filter small biopotential signals in the presence of noisy conditions, such as those created by motion or remote electrode placement. This design allows a low power analog-to-digital converter (ADC) or an embedded microcontroller to easily acquire the output signal.
Earlier this year at Embedded World 2018, the biometric company B-Secur announced a partnership with NXP Semiconductors to develop a new microcontroller chip for protecting connected consumer IoT devices using ECG authentication technology.
Commenting on the B-Secur/ADI collaborative effort, Ben Carter, chief commercial officer of B-Secur said, “B-Secur’s ECG biometric technology can not only quickly and securely verify identity, but also turn the data into meaningful insights on driver/passenger wellness, including stress and drowsiness. “
Carter added, “We are delighted to collaborate with Analog Devices to help make the world a safer place with ECG biometrics, securing human and technology interaction at its heart.”