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Ontario Technoblog

Ontario Emperor technology blog.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Love to see the Daubert hearing on this one

From Wired:

Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, are exploring the possibility of a biometric security device that will use a person's thoughts to authenticate her or his identity.

Their idea of utilizing brain-wave signatures as "pass-thoughts" is based on the premise that brain waves are unique to each individual. Even when thinking of the same thing, the brain's measurable electrical impulses vary slightly from person to person. Some researchers believe the difference might just be enough to create a system that allows you to log in with your thoughts....

The research is an outgrowth of efforts to build a brain-computer interface, or BCI, by trying to extract the meaningful parts of brain-wave signals measured by an electroencephalogram, or EEG, and translate them into recognizable computer commands that allow disabled people to control and manipulate prosthetic devices. A chief challenge facing BCI technology is that brain-wave signatures are unique, so a system trained to recognize a particular user can be quite difficult for another to manipulate....

However, some researchers are skeptical that a computer will ever be able to passively recognize a particular mental image in a person's head.

Iead Rezek, of the Pattern Analysis Research Group at the University of Oxford, says the proposal has "flair," but is impractical: Too many things are going on in the brain at the cellular level that all look the same from a scalp distance. "Signals from an uncountable number of nerve cells are smeared and lumped together by the time we are recording the brain-wave patterns," says Rezek. "Authentication is akin to recognizing speakers from muffled voices because, for example, the speakers are some distance away."...

[T]here remain pragmatic obstacles to rolling out pass-thoughts as a replacement for other biometrics. It's easy enough to slide an index finger into a fingerprint reader, but right now the only way to tap into a person's brain signals is through a highly inconvenient EEG cap that's smeared with conductive gel and worn on the scalp.

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