Brainwaves are the new fingerprints

mind readingA team of boffins has worked out a way of telling who you are by reading your mind.

Researchers at Binghamton University in US  say their ‘brain prints’ are 100 percent accurate and might have a new life in ultra secure systems.

They looked at the brain activity of 50 people wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) headset who were asked to looked at a series of 500 images designed specifically to elicit unique responses from person to person – for example a slice of pizza, a boat, or the word “conundrum”.

They found that participants’ brains reacted differently to each image, enough that a computer system was able to identify each volunteer’s ‘brainprint’ with 100 percent accuracy.

Assistant Professor Sarah Laszlo said that when you take hundreds of these images, where every person is going to feel differently about each individual one, then you can be really accurate in identifying which person it was who looked at them just by their brain activity.

According to Laszlo, brain biometrics are appealing because they are cancellable and cannot be stolen by malicious means the way a finger or retina can.

“In the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorised user, the authorised user could then ‘reset’ their brainprint,” Laszlo said.

Zhanpeng Jin, assistant professor at Binghamton University, does not see this as the kind of system that would be mass-produced for low security applications, but it could have important security applications.

“We tend to see the applications of this system as being more along the lines of high-security physical locations, like the Pentagon or Air Force Labs, where there aren’t that many users that are authorised to enter, and those users don’t need to constantly be authorising the way that a consumer might need to authorise into their phone or computer,” Jin said.