A team of researchers at Binghamton University, led by Assistant Professor of Psychology Sarah Laszlo and Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Zhanpeng Jin, recorded the brain activity of 50 people wearing an electroencephalogram headset while they looked at a series of 500 images designed specifically to elicit unique responses from person to person -- e.g., a slice of pizza, a boat, Anne Hathaway, the word "conundrum." They found that participants' brains reacted differently to each image, enough that a computer system was able to identify each volunteer's "brainprint" with 100 percent accuracy.
"It's a big deal going from 97 to 100 percent because we imagine the applications for this technology being for high-security situations, like ensuring the person going into the Pentagon or the nuclear launch bay is the right person," said Laszlo. "You don't want to be 97 percent accurate for that, you want to be 100 percent accurate."
According to Laszlo, brain biometrics are appealing because they can be cancelled and cannot be stolen by malicious means the way a finger or retina can. The results suggest that brainwaves could be used by security systems to verify a person's identity.
Many of the researchers believe that this will pave way for a new line of high-security at places such as the Pentagon or Air Force Labs, where there aren't that many users that are authorized to enter, and those users don't need to constantly be authorizing the way that a consumer might need to authorize into their phone or computer.