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Just like our fingerprints and irides, each of us has a unique heart. Our cardiac signature can be used to identify us just as how our fingerprints can be used to identify us. However, unlike fingerprints, it is possible to detect and identify cardiac signatures from a distance.

For a while now, the United States military has been interested in long range biometric identification methods. Biometric techniques currently used by the military to identify people from a distance include facial recognition technologies and gait analysis. In fact, an ISIS terrorist has been identified as a target for a drone strike due to gait analysis. However, an individual’s gait is not necessarily distinct and facial recognition software can sometimes get confused due to similar facial hair, facial accessories, or headscarves. Because of this, the United States military has been looking for methods to identify people from a distance via their unique cardiac signature.

A new device has been developed for the Pentagon that can identify people from 200 meters away without looking at their face. The device, called Jetson, uses an infrared laser to identify unique cardiac signatures. The laser works by detecting surface movement caused by the heartbeat. Jetson could identify a heartbeat through shirts and jackets, although it won’t be able to penetrate thicker clothing, such as a winter jacket.

Jetson was developed from a device often used to measure vibrations from a distance. Jetson had a special gimbal added to it so that it can track a target. Once the laser takes aim at a target, it takes about 30 seconds for the device to return an identification result. So as of now, the technology is slightly limited. However, under good conditions, Jetson achieves 95% accuracy.

Even though Jetson could likely hold its own in identification, it is likely that Jetson would be used alongside other biometric identification techniques.

In the field, the device would be at its peak efficiency given a database of cardiac signatures existed. But even without a database, the technology could be useful in many applications. For example, if a terrorist or enemy soldier were to plant a bomb or fire bullets with his face concealed, Jetson would be able to identify his unique cardiac signature which could help forces identify him if he were to ever show up again in the area.

Technologyreview.com mentions how in the long run, this technology could be used in hospitals to save time and increase the comfort of patients. Doctors could potentially use the technology to easily detect an abnormalities in heartbeats.