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U of T spinoff Nymi makes development debut

Company shipped first developer kit in December
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The Nymi Band is the company’s flagship product. MEDIA PHOTO
The Nymi Band is the company’s flagship product. MEDIA PHOTO

Nymi, a technology company founded at the University of Toronto in 2011 and eventually spun off, shipped its first developer kit in December.

The Nymi Band, the company’s flagship product, is a wristband that uses your heartbeat as a general password for everything from mobile phones to bank cards.

The recently shipped Discovery Kit is intended to let developers work with the Nymi Band and start designing applications for it, so as to enable a full range of uses when the band is released to the public.

The company has described the release of the developer kit as a major step on its product development path. “Today we mark a massive milestone – we have begun to ship Nymi Band Discovery Kits out to our developer community. That means that Nymi Bands are now out in the world, being used to build and finalize awesome applications,” said a company press release.

The Nymi Band measures the wearer’s electrical signals produced by one’s heartbeat — which are as unique as a fingerprint — with an electrocardiogram (ECG). The band will ideally take the place of a password, with the wearer’s identity being communicated to debit machines and locked devices.

The device also comes equipped with bluetooth, proximity detection, and gesture recognition so you can do more than just unlock devices.

The Nymi Band “changes the fundamentals of how we interact with technology,” says Nymi CEO Karl Martin.

One application, produced by the company Tipsylock, would use the band to lock users out of their car or text messages if a separate device deems them too intoxicated.

Another application, from the company TTCPayments, would track and pay for the user’s TTC travels, purportedly making trips much more efficient.

The company is also involved in a pilot project with Mastercard and RBC, which will test the Nymi Band as a payment device using the same platform as tap credit card payments.

This is one of Nymi’s most ambitious undertakings — simplifying payment by simplifying identification, to the point where the Nymi Band can take care of payments without the user’s involvement.

The Nymi Band fits into a larger trend towards wearable technology, with some analysts hailing 2015 as the year of wearable technology.

According to Nymi, the future of wearable tech is an “all-in-one” device that securely makes payments, receives emails, and unlocks computers.

Despite Nymi’s assurances, however, some remain skeptical about the band’s security. For example, even if difficult to steal, once an ECG is stolen it could provide access to all of the user’s password protected accounts. Once stolen, an ECG cannot be changed like a password.

Regardless of security concerns, the company has garnered a high degree of attention since its launch.

The company has sold over 10,000 pre-orders for the band, and recently closed a $14 million round of funding with investors including Relay Ventures, Ignition Partners, and Salesforce Ventures.