Samsung Aims for Multi-Factor Smartwatch Security

MultimodalSamsung has filed a patent for a method of multi-factor biometric user authentication on a smartwatch, reports Jack Purcher on Patently Mobile. The method is surprisingly elaborate, using a two-tiered security system, and will play an important role in securing mobile commerce and payment transactions via the device, among other functions.

Essentially, the system looks for two distinct biosignals from the user’s smartwatch. One of those biosignals must be some kind of muscle movement – perhaps something like the Harry Potter-style wand-waving authentication used in systems like the OSIGUARD app, but more likely a more generic gesture such as the clenching of a fist. That biosignal is actually the trigger that sets the authentication process in motion. Once that’s activated, the other biosignal comes into play, which can take the form of an ECG signal, a PPG signal, a voice signature, or a bioimpedance signature.

It’s interesting that Samsung has allowed for such a range of biometric modalities in this system; it’s competitors’, meanwhile, seem content to stick with one modality, as in the case of Apple’s TouchID system, and Alipay’s “Smile to Pay” system. It’s possible that Samsung is hoping to have an edge in the market with respect to advanced security – though consumer polling indicates security is far less important than convenience. It may simply be that Samsung wanted to keep its options open; in any case, it’s undeniably better to have more security options than less.