Log Into A Computer With Your BRAIN: Technology That Identifies 'Brainprints' Could Let You Unlock Devices With Thoughts
You could soon unlock your computer just by thinking about it.
It may sound far-fetched, but scientists have already created a prototype system that is able to do this with 94 per cent accuracy.
The technology could someday replace passwords altogether and make accessing gadgets safer and faster, according to its creators.
The system was dreamt up by Blair Armstrong of the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language in Spain.
Armstrong discovered that everyone thinks about different words in their own unique way.
In a recent study, he recorded the brain signals of 45 volunteers as they read a list of 75 acronyms, including ones like FBI and DVD.
Electrical activity was recorded using a pair of electrodes attached to participants' scalps.
The human brain is made up of billions of active neurons that have around 105,600 miles (170,000 km) of combined length.
Every time you have a thought, your brain produces weak but distinct electrical signals corresponding to it.
The electrical impulse is generated by the chemical reaction between neurons, which can be measured with electrodes.
After measuring these reactions, Armstrong used computer programs to find an individual’s 'brainprint', according to a report in New Scientist.
While 94 per cent accuracy is still not as good as technologies such as Apple's Touch ID, Armstrong says it's a good start.
One of the benefits of this type of technology is that it could be used to verify someone's identity continuously.
Technology such as this has been developed before, but the noise associated with measurements of the brain's signals, often made the data difficult to study.
The latest approach, however, focuses on brainwaves from just one area; the task of reading and recognising words.
This accessing something known as 'semantic memories', which unlike other memories, do not change too much over time.
Armstrong told New Scientist that semantic memory is almost impossible to hack, and far safer than fingerprint recognition.
He highlighted an incident case in Malaysia in 2005, where carjackers cut off the owner's fingertip so that they could trigger the car's fingerprint-activated starter.
'You can't have your brain cut off,' says Armstrong.