TMCnet Feature
April 10, 2013

Think Password Thoughts: Brainwave Technology Looks to Log You In

By Nicole Spector, Contributing Writer

So long post-its taped under the bottom of your desk where you think no one will look and so long wasted memory. Now you can be like Einstein, who allegedly didn't even have his own phone number memorized, so packed was his brain with scientific revelations.

Researchers at UC Berkeley School of Information have found that by measuring brainwaves with biosensor technology, they can replace passwords with “passthoughts” for computer authentication.

NeuroSky Mindset, a headset, which retails for $100, wirelessly connects your brain to a computer using a Bluetooth signal. To make it work, all you need to do is think. The device's sensor, which rests against a user's forehead, provides an electroencephalogram (EEG) signal from the brain. Just keep thinking that password and presto you're logged in to the given account.

This new “thinky” way of accessing information is a tremendous breakthrough in biometric authentication systems. Fingerprints or retina scans have thus far been the most popular, but they are costly and complicated and seen more in sci-fi movies than in daily life. The NeuroSky (News - Alert) Mindset is much more user-friendly, researchers say, and since brainwaves are unique to each individual, it's just as secure a method.

Even if you share your passthought, or a hacker psychic reads your mind and uncovers your passthought, you're still protected by the NeuroSky Mindset because every individual’s emitted EEG signal is inherently different – thus, theirs will be different from yours.

One trick in using the new brainy hardware is that you have to be relatively chilled out to make it work. Participants who tested the device found that breathing while concentrating on a thought for ten seconds resulted in successful authentication. 

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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