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New Research to find out if your thoughts can verify passwords

Imagine you are the ATM, and you just “think” about your PIN number, and it magically allows you to take your money out (without inserting your PIN number).


The research by Palani Ramaswamy’s team was to investigate if brain’s electrical activity (known as electroencephalogram, EEG) could be used as a biometric tool, i.e. in the authentication of an individual’s identity. For example, the most recent study published in International Journal of Cognitive Biometrics explored the possibility of generating passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN) by using thoughts instead of the standard input mechanisms like keypad entry.

The advantage of this method is obvious, as, it is less prone to fraud such as shoulder surfing (where one peeks over the shoulder to get the password or PIN) since it will be impossible to perceive the thoughts of another person in such cases. It can be used in any authentication scenarios like in ATM machines, logging in to computers and authorising bank’s financial transactions (in place of card reader technology).

Palani says “The technology works by recording EEG signals while the user is visualising alphanumeric characters popping on screen. The reaction of the brain will be different when the alphanumeric characters contained in the specific password or PIN are shown and the changes are detected through advanced signal analysis algorithms developed for the work. Since only the changes in brain patterns are recorded, such technology will be more robust to forgeries”.  

"At the moment, the only issue preventing the technology from being applied is the use of wet, gel based electrodes to record the EEG data. However, dry electrodes are already being designed and the user will just need to wear a cap or headgear of some sort and get authenticated using their thoughts”.

For further information, please contact Palani on: 01902 323875.

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