It may feel as though there are always new reports of cybersecurity fraud, identity theft, or hacking. An paper describing a development in electronic identification that may ultimately replace passwords, PIN codes, and possibly even fingerprint scans was released last year by a research team from Binghamton University. They observed 50 people's brain activity as they viewed 500 photos, ranging from a pizza slice to actress Anne Hathaway.
They discovered that because each subject's brain responded to the visuals in a unique way, computer software was able to evaluate the reaction patterns and use them to accurately identify each subject's "brainprint." Brainprints have benefits over computerized fingerprint scans, as Sarah Laszlo, an assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton University, stated in an interview at the time. A stolen fingerprint scan permanently compromises the person whose finger was used to create it, but a stolen brainprint is a digital, rather than a physical, visual one, and it can easily be reset and wiped.
Another scientist may have created a fascinating variant of brainwave ID while we wait for someone to create and commercialize a brainprint identification system. Researcher Violeta Tulceanu from the University of Iasi in Romania is creating a system that examines a user's brainwaves to determine their identity as well as their mental condition, according to a press release from journal publisher Inderscience. The goal is to create an emotional fingerprint for every individual, which would include the brainwave patterns that person experiences whether experiencing joy, terror, or other emotions. If a person is behaving under duress, such as if a robber is pressuring them to use an ATM or unlock an electronic door lock, such a device may refuse entry. It may also recognize when a user is intoxicated or drugged to the point where they are unable to behave appropriately.
An emotion-based brainwave recognition system may advance over time as it gathered more and more information about a person's feelings, according to Tulceanu's article in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms. This kind of authentication has implications in industries like the military, e-learning, health, etc. where it's important to be able to determine whether the user was acting properly and of his own free will, according to Tulceanu's abstract.