Brainwaves As Biometric Identification

We've all seen how biometric identification - the use of body measurement (in some sense) to establish the identity of a person - can be defeated. Iris scans were defeated (fictionally, at least) by a transplant (in Thunderbolt), thumb print ID systems have been defeated by, well, borrowing the appropriate thumb, and so forth.

How about using a live capture of a person's brainwaves as ID?

But there's a lesser-known biometric,that might be a bit harder to counterfeit: brainwaves. "In the biometric textbook table of contents, often the brain biometrics were listed as ‘Esoteric Biometrics.’ So I guess people have thought about it for many years, but it's been considered sort of esoteric." Sarah Laszlo, a psychologist at Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York.

To test the potential of brainwave biometrics, Laszlo and her colleagues attached electrodes to the scalps of 45 volunteers. They then recorded an electroencephalogram, or EEG—a reading of the brain's electrical activity—as the subjects watched acronyms flash on a computer screen. Turns out that each acronym—FBI, DVD, VCR—sets off a unique pattern of activation in your brain, which corresponds to an electrical signature. And each person has slightly different so-called "brainprints." Different enough that computers were able to uniquely identify the study volunteers by their brainwaves 94 percent of the time. That effect held up when the subjects were retested six months later.

So it has a way to go before it is really usable in security situations. But Philip K. Dick was quite interested in brain scans in the 1960's. He suggests that the scans of CEO's could be used to keep their office contents secure. Consider the cephalic pattern door.

Via Scientific American.

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Index of related articles:

Biometric security overview
Biometrics Glossary
Characteristics of successful biometric identification methods
Biometric identification systems
Biometric technology on the leading edge
Biometric identification - advantages
Biometric security and business ethics
Biometric authentication: what method works best?
Iris Recognition
Iris Scan

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