Nymi Band Impressions

Editor’s note: Here’s the first post from Osvaldo Villagrana (@vaini11a), one of our AppsLab Mexico team members. Enjoy.

During last week I’ve been playing with Nymi Discovery Kit I got back in our AT&T hackathon participation, and here are my impressions as a developer for Nymi SDK point of view and as a user.

For those who don’t know, this band is wearable biometric identity device that let’s you use your heart’s unique signature (a.k.a. Electrocardiogram or EGC) to authenticate and validate your identity.

Main problem they want to solve is avoid user remembering all passwords, PIN numbers and security codes used in our daily basis.

First off Discovery Kit includes the band, Bluetooth dongle for Windows and USB cable for charging the band. Bluetooth dongle is included because at the beginning Nymi band only could be paired with Windows OS but now can be paired through OS X and Android as well.

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Nymi band material at first feels cheap and easy to bend it and break it, but it really fits very well on my wrist. Band connections terminals are very exposed in both ends of the cord to water or dust but they say is water resistant but not waterproof.

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Band is adjustable and can accommodate wrist sizes up to 7.5” in circumference. A full charge takes approximately two hours when you use a wall outlet or computer and battery last 3 days.

Setting up the band is requires some steps; band must be enrolled and authenticated with your own ECG using the NCA (Nymi Companion App) app available in Windows, OS X and Android. I decided use Android app this time. I tried OS X and Windows but it’s the same. Once the band is clasped on your wrist it will confirm you the charge level and immediately will enter in broadcast mode.

I found this step a bit confusing as there’s no feedback when band is already in broadcast mode so you are not quite sure if your band is ready to be discoverable. Funny thing is there’s no way to turn it off.

After band is clasped, Android app asks for putting your finger over the sensor in the band. It takes like a minute for the app to analyze and save your ECG info in the app. After that, you’re ready to pair your Nymi with any NEA (Nymi Enabled app or third party apps). Band supports just up to 7 different apps profiles (they say in coming updates will be supported more).

Anytime clasp is opened, band must be authenticated once again but with the same NCA app was before. If you want to use any other NCA app (OS X or Windows), the band should be reset and start over the setting up. This is not ideal.

NEA’s must provision a unique key-value (profile) that is saved in the band for future use and this happen only once for each NEA. The NEA should store the provision returned from the band for future communication. On subsequent usage, NEA’s validate against the provisioned Nymi band. Once validation is successful, the NEA can assume an authenticated user. All those steps must be implemented by the developer using the SDK’s for different platforms.

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To complete the exercise, I wrote an Android app that makes provisioning and validating flow and finally gets user authenticated if user is close enough to the device, in this case mobile or tablet. After I got authenticated my wife wore the band and tried to get authenticated but authentication failed all the time as expected.

SDK is good but needs some enhancements, though. Even at Nymi, they are having hard time with problems in their own NEA’s like the unlock app for Mac OS X that currently is not working and I have posted couple of issues and bugs I found.

As first attempt for this new authentication automatization niche, I like it, and I think is good enough.

I see a lot of potential and possibles use cases for this band in enterprise. Definitely I would use it, but what I would really love is a band that can handle authentication, sport tracking and motion, notifications and time in the same device. Probably that’s too much for now but I’m looking forward to seeing that device soon.

2 comments

  1. and to think that I was an early adopter of this junk. It STILL won’t pair with IOS… Lame…

  2. I’m still awaiting mine… be interesting to test it out. Thanks for this insight.

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