CardioID: in the heart of Smart Open Lisboa

February 15, 2019

CardioID’s goal was to produce a technology that would allow changing of routines of authentication and biometric identification of users and they did it by monitoring the heart signals. Each one of us has a heartbeat or a cardiac morphology that is unique – like a fingerprint.


CardioID’s core team, all comprised of electrotechnical engineers, first came into Beta-i’s fold when they participated in the first Lisbon Challenge. When the Beta-i’s team took the challenges of Smart Open Lisboa to them, they didn’t hesitate to put in their contributions towards better mobility in the city. They implemented their product CardioWheel: an Advanced Driver Assistance System that acquires the electrocardiogram (ECG) from the driver’s hands to continuously detect drowsiness, cardiac health problems, and biometric identity recognition.

We spoke with André Lourenço, one of the co-founders, about their path to the perfect product and their participation in SOL Mobility.

ReThink: What was your goal when you started CardioID?

André Lourenço: We had an ambitious goal – to have a base technology that could be applied to multiple scenarios. So we thought that authentication using the heartbeat could change our way of interacting with technology – from cell phones, computers, gaming consoles… anything where you can use your hands – we could identify the person and personalize the experience.

We talked with a lot of people but there wasn’t a go-to-market for that technology at the time – although we do hold the patent of the intellectual property – so we had to develop the technology further, to fit market needs. Because of our science background, we had a solution and we were trying to find the problem when usually it is the other way around.

RT: Is this how you got to your product, CardioWheel?

AL: Exactly! As CardioID evolved, we were looking for a market and we had always thought there was potential in the automotive industry, giving the user experience and the inherent problems of driving. So we started making changes to focus on the automotive industry.

RT: Did you change your vision to adapt to the market?

AL: Everything connected to the more operational side of the business was essential to make the product more marketable. Fleets and the managers are looking for lowering costs – those are the pains of a businessman. So, we had to integrate our base technology in a bigger idea that allows for optimization of a fleet.

But we really think this technology can make a difference and better our lives – there’s still so many car accidents. We know there are autonomous cars coming, but that’s not happening tomorrow. CardioID still maintains humans in command of cars but enhances our experience to be safer and smoother. But that is just one thing.

We believe this technology can go much further than cars.

RT: In which industries do you see CardioID in next?

AL: We have a base technology that is algorithms. We also made some hardware because it didn’t exist at the time. So we basically have a technology that can measure signals and process them locally, and that can be applied in anything. Namely, in the area of critical facilities and monitoring of “lone workers” – someone who has to climb a high voltage pole or inspect a pipeline, or other dangerous environments, by himself. Our tech can be embedded in a t-shirt or a band, and the process of analysis of fatigue and stress can be added. We can have these signals monitored by others or by the person themselves – giving him an awareness of his own conditions.

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We saw immediately a slew of companies that we’d been trying to work with, giving that our product was ready to market. We needed a connection to them and SOL accomplished it very well.

RT: Why did you decide to join SOL Mobility? What were the main attractions the program had for you?

AL: The main attraction was the industry that was involved. We saw immediately a slew of companies that we’d been trying to work with, giving that our product was ready to market. We needed a connection to them and SOL accomplished it very well. It was an interesting deck of entities and companies, and we especially liked that several of them had national reach, even though the programme is “Smart Open Lisboa”.

RT: How was the process of working with a utility?

AL: Ferrovial in particular opened up for us, and they have been a great partner. We’re very happy to be working with them. We’ve made more contacts that are still on-going. It opened up a lot of doors for us that we are now developing relationships with. The programme aims to establish procedures and create visible milestones for both sides and it was really effective. The pilot was a real deployment of our technology with a big enough scale – that was important to us.

RT: You partnered up with Ferrovial – what is the pilot about?

AL: We are monitoring the whole driving experience of Ferrovial’s fleet. We’re using not only CardioWheel – which analyses the physiological signals of the driver – but also monitoring the car and the driving and the road itself. We applied complementary technological units to have a system that allows optimizing the costs of the operation and simultaneously greatly improve the safety of the driver.

It’s still early for the results, but we’ve observed some interesting things already. We have several driver profiles, that consider region, type of vehicle, driver’s physiology, route and incidents of the job. For example, there’s a big correlation between the number of incidents (weather, etc) and vehicle consumption.

RT: What were the biggest advantages you took from being in Smart Open Lisboa?

AL: The biggest advantage was the structure of the pilots and the contacts with the companies involved in the programme. The fact that we had all the entities and companies connected to mobility in the same room was very interesting – just having all the players in mobility there brought up ideas that connected with each other. That was a major plus.

RT: Would you recommend Smart Open Lisboa to other startups?

AL: Yes! There’s still so much to do in mobility. We’ve had so many ideas, we wish we had the time to it ourselves. But to take advantage of Smart Open Lisboa, a startup must be mature enough to develop the pilots and apply the technology on a national scale, that’s important to take notice.

You can take a look at CardioID’s pilot presentation below:

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