The Pentagon has a laser that can identify people at a distance, by the beat of their heart. So, can detect your unique heart signature 200 meters away, even through clothes.
At the biometric level, the cardiac signature of an individual is unique and, unlike faces or other biometric signs, remains constant and cannot be altered or concealed.
A new device, developed for the Pentagon, can identify people without seeing their face: instead, it detects their unique cardiac signature with an infrared laser. While it works 200 meters away, longer distances could be possible with a more powerful laser.
The new device, called Jetson, uses a technique known as laser vibrometry to detect surface movement caused by heartbeats. This works with typical clothes like a shirt and a jacket (although not thicker clothes like a winter coat).
It takes about 30 seconds to get a good return, so the device is currently only effective when the subject is sitting or standing.
To achieve this milestone of a science fiction movie, algorithms were developed capable of extracting a cardiac signature from the laser signals, obtaining 95% accuracy in good condition. In practice, Jetson is likely to be used in conjunction with facial recognition or other identification methods.
Wenyao Xu, from the State University of New York at Buffalo, has also developed a remote heart sensor, although it works only 20 meters away and uses a radar.
An obvious limitation is the need for a cardiac signature database, but even without this database the system has interesting potential uses. The US military in Iraq and Afghanistan also collects biometric data routinely, so cardiac data could be added to that library. In the long term, this technology could find many more uses, its developers believe. For example, a doctor may search for arrhythmias and other conditions remotely, or hospitals could monitor the condition of patients without having to connect them to machines.