ECG biometrics is gaining ground in the consumer wellness space, with those wishing to monitor their personal wellbeing and health.
Could we go further?
We look at the role ECG biometrics could play in the authentication and wellness of those performing urgent roles in first response, in this, the final of our three part article series with Alan Goode, CEO and Chief Analyst of biometric research and consulting company Goode Intelligence. (Recap our last piece.)
“According to the United States National Fire Protection Association, more than 60,000 firefighter injuries in North America alone are reported annually, of which 25% are as a result of overexertion or strain.
“Firefighters and other first responders are putting themselves into dangerous situations that put their bodies under enormous pressure.
“Could ECG biometrics drive the next generation of vital monitoring tools to support these dedicated professionals?”
What is the Impact of Stress on a First Responder?
To understand where ECG biometrics can make the biggest impact, it’s important to understand the impact of stress on the body, and in particular, the heart.
The physical impact on a first responder can be significant.
In the emergency environment, the first responder’s heart rate and blood pressure rises.
Breathing heavily forces increased oxygen consumption, which coupled with the increase in heart rate can impair the heart’s pumping capacity. For firefighters, heat stress and dehydration compound the problem.
Longer term, the impact of this strain on the heart could accelerate vascular changes which can cause cardiac arrhythmias and potentially subsequent myocardial infarction.
Can ECG Biometrics Help?
There are two clear use cases for ECG biometrics in this area. The first is authentication, helping command centres monitor who is on-site and where - something that can easily become difficult in a stressful and changing emergency situation.
“These situations are often in isolation of fellow first responders and command and control centres, providing a headache for monitoring the health and wellbeing of those first on the scene.
“Preventing injuries to first responders and ensuring that their health is preserved in order for them to be effective in helping others is a vital consideration. But we need also to identify exactly who needs support and who may need to be replaced by backup members of the team.”
Once we know who is on scene, we must determine clearly and accurately their physical condition. ECG biometrics can give us vital insights into their:
- Respiration rate
Smartwear for First Response
A report by analysts ABI Research predicts that the smart clothing market will top 31 million units shipped annually by 2022.
We've embedded our ECG biometric algorithms into a modal that can be built into clothing, creating a new breed of smartwear for first responders.
The ECG sensor is flexible enough to be embedded in clothes or wearable devices that are comfortable for first responders to wear without interfering with their primary role.
ECG biometrics is also perfect for high security environments where a separate token or other biometric such as a fingerprint, is inconvenient to use for identification.
Alan Goode concludes:
“The combination of first responder identification and health monitoring are two inextricable ingredients in boosting safety for first responders”.
In that case, deploying ECG biometrics could lead us to enhanced safety and security for our hardworking and dedicated first responders.
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- Could ECG biometrics act as a catalyst to unlock deep insights into health and wellness?
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