Humans of MaRS: At BioConnect, the future of online security is in your DNA
photos by Mauricio Calero
The number that keeps coming up in conversation with entrepreneur Rob Douglas is a big one: Seven billion. In his vision, the market for the services his growing tech company is now cooking up in a Liberty Village loft includes every living person on earth.
But the founder and CEO of BioConnect is no mere dreamer. He's a veteran of the tech industry and the service his new company offers is something every person in the connected world will soon need and want.
BioConnect calls it “Rightful Identity” – infallible proof of a person's unique identity based on biometric data derived from fingerprints, eye scans or even DNA. The company hopes to become the universal translator of biometric data to help complete any transaction that requires confirmation of a person's identity – and in the process, drive all keys, passwords and PINs into extinction.
Who among the seven billion wouldn't want that?
“BioConnect is the first of its kind – an identity platform that curates everything biometric,” Douglas says. Using BioConnect software, electronic infrastructure that currently speaks only in PIN and password will learn a new language, automatically identifying individuals from their unique genetic characteristics.
“Our mission is to allow seven billion people on the planet to easily prove who they are, and to allow corporations and governments to have complete certainty of identity in all transactions,” Douglas says.
In the process, the company hopes to serve an important social need. “Our job is help you protect your identity, a valuable possession in the 21st century,” Douglas says, describing it as the “exact opposite” of the approach taken by data giants.
“Big data companies are commercializing your identity for their benefit. We're putting the control of your identity back in your hands.”
Douglas credits Apple's embrace of fingerprint readers in its iPhones as the biometric breakthrough that will guarantee the industry’s growth.
“If 650 million people today use biometric smartphones, we expect that two or three billion people worldwide over the next three or four years will be using some sort of biometric sensor, either in a phone or a wearable device,” he says.
With new headquarters in one of Toronto's trendiest tech districts, a consumer application coming to market in the fall and its current staff of 45 employees expected to double over the next year, BioConnect is past the startup phase and well on the path to rapid growth. Douglas is confident about where that path will lead.
“When all seven billion people in the world can be themselves without worry of identity theft, then our mission will be accomplished.”
Krista Jones is the Head of Work & Learning at MaRS Discovery District. Krista works with entrepreneurs and innovators developing cutting-edge technologies that advance global workers and workplaces.