Evolution, Current Challenges, and Future Possibilities in ECG Biometrics

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João Tiago Pinto
Jaime Cardoso
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Face and fingerprint are, currently, the most thoroughly explored biometric traits, promising reliable recognition in diverse applications. Commercial products using these traits for biometric identification or authentication are increasingly widespread, from smartphones to border control. However, increasingly smart techniques to counterfeit such traits raise the need for traits that are less vulnerable to stealthy trait measurement or spoofing attacks. This has sparked interest on the electrocardiogram (ECG), most commonly associated with medical diagnosis, whose hidden nature and inherent liveness information make it highly resistant to attacks. In the last years, the topic of ECG-based biometrics has quickly evolved toward the commercial applications, mainly by addressing the reduced acceptability and comfort by proposing new off-the-person, wearable, and seamless acquisition settings. Furthermore, researchers have recently started to address the issues of spoofing prevention and data security in ECG biometrics, as well as the potential of deep learning methodologies to enhance the recognition accuracy and robustness. In this paper, we conduct a deep review and discussion of 93 state-of-the-art publications on their proposed methods, signal datasets, and publicly available ECG collections. The extracted knowledge is used to present the fundamentals and the evolution of ECG biometrics, describe the current state of the art, and draw conclusions on prior art approaches and current challenges. With this paper, we aim to delve into the current opportunities as well as inspire and guide future research in ECG biometrics.