If Karl Martin, the CEO of Nymi Inc., was wearing his Toronto-based firm’s namesake Nymi Band authentication device, which identifies a person’s unique heartbeat, it may have detected a quickened pace when he closed a $15 million Series B fundraising round this week.
The new funding came from a new contributor, Dubai-based GII Tech, and continued support from Relay Ventures and Ignition Partners. Nymi, founded in 2011, has built a persistent identity authentication platform based around its own unique algorithm. What began as a pitch to consumers that they’d never have to enter a password again, if only they would wear this wristband dedicated to identity authentication, has since shifted to a focus on the enterprise environment. It landed its first enterprise deal with Paris-based Atos SE, to be integrated into its Evidian Enterprise Single Sign-On (SSO) solution.
Nymi’s technology is helping Atos solve a compliance problem that’s very specific to its pharmaceutical industry clients. They require detailed auditing of who mixed what pharmaceuticals, at what machine, and when.
“Who knew right?” Martin says. “But we’ve found there’s a specific trend that’s going on in the advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing where they’re modernizing their industrial settings.”
Martin says the new funding is thanks to Nymi finding this opportunity, and will help it gain more traction in the vertical. While its solution is still in the pilot phase of a couple of hundred users right now, he expects to scale to many thousands of customers with the help of the Series B funding. It’ll also help Nymi fill out its team with about 15-20 new hires.
The funding also brings the expertise of Silicon Valley investor and GII partner Vijay Parmar. Parmar previously worked with both Intel Corp. and AMD, and should be able to advise Nymi on how to pursue a strategy of seeing its technology embedded at the OEM level.
“Nymi inside is a future road map for our company,” Martin says. “Vijay has a lot of background that can help us fulfill that plan.”
In the pharmaceutical industry, Nymi Bands are being deployed in clean room environments and worn under antibacterial gowns and gloves. But
Martin also sees a path for the company where its authentication platform is put to use in a more typical office setting as well.
One barrier for Nymi Band as a device is that most people won’t wear something that’s dedicated only to identity authentication, Martin says, so his firm is waiting for a wearable tech device to clearly breakthrough the early adopter phase. Integration in a multi-use device is one scenario where the technology finds something closer to mass appeal.
Another potential opportunity lies in harnessing personalized AI in the workplace. While devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are quickly being adopted in the consumer space, having workers call over cubicle walls to dictate commands to a voice assistant seems impractical.
“Knowing who’s there in a way that’s passive and intelligent could be useful in a variety of experiences,” Martin says. “The voice-driven AI, that’s one modality, but having a more passive modality-based on something people are wearing, I think that makes a lot of sense.”
To get ready for that world, Nymi is making sure its technology is ready to scale. It’s doing the architecture work needed so devices can be set up and deployed from a managed console, by an administrator. Martin likens it to what mobile device management (MDM) has done for smartphones in the enterprise.
“This is groundwork for having a hyper-connected office where you get a Nymi band, and it gets provisioned to all the different environments that you’d be able to work in and have that personalized experience,” he says.
Monitoring that heartbeat to authenticate the individual remains core to that product. But Martin says don’t be surprised if another layer of identity authentication is added in the future. Though he won’t say how exactly that would work.
“We’re really invested in this concept of always-on authentication and we’re looking at different ways to enable that,” he said.
So don’t hold your breath.