The company's Nymi wristband, which can be pre-ordered for $79 and is scheduled for release later this year, contains an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) which senses, records, and interprets various biorhythms of a person's heart. These readings are unique and difficult to counterfeit, so they can serve as an alternative method of security to today's passwords. The device focuses on heart-wave characteristics that are constant, so as not to render a person's Bitcoins inaccessible after a long run or while a person is feeling nervous. A Bluetooth connection allows the Nymi to send the EKG readings to various computing systems where security is needed, including PCs, iPhones, and vehicles.
Bionym has decided to apply this new security technology to Bitcoin by including a Bitcoin wallet application with the Nymi. The idea is the private key of the Bitcoin wallet file, which allows users to send Bitcoins to other people, would authenticate through Nymi, making it more secure from hackers, who routinely manage to steal Bitcoins permanently from wallets that lack sufficient security measures. The company could also integrate the Nymi with existing wallets for Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies derived from it, such as Litecoin, Namecoin, Novacoin, and Peercoin.
“People have heard about Bitcoin but they’re worried about the risks,” says Bionym President Andrew D’Souza. “Every Nymi will ship with the most secure Bitcoin wallet – it could be the killer app.”
“People don’t know where their Bitcoin funds are stored, and who can access them,” says Yevgeniy Vahlis, Bionym’s chief cryptographer. “The Nymi’s wallet application makes the answer clear: the wallet is physically stored on the Nymi. The Nymi’s multi-factor system, including its ECG biometric, ensures secure Bitcoin storage tied to the rightful owner. The Nymi is a very natural device to use as a Bitcoin wallet. If you do want to make an outgoing transaction, the user will have to perform a physical confirmation by tapping on the wristband.”
Bionym was founded by CEO Karl Martin and CTO Foteini Agrafioti through the Creative Destruction Lab, a startup accelerator program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business. The company had raised $1.4 million in seed funding by late 2013.