In the not to distant future it may be possible to access private and restricted information with a thought, known as ‘pass thoughts’ and will replace the need for passwords. This new body of research has been conducted at the University of Berkley School of Information and led by Professor Chunag, together with first year student Charles Wang, and former post doctoral scholar Benjamin Johnson.

Recently, researchers have proposed using electroencephalograms for computer authentication however have not progressed further due to the technology being expensive and cumbersome. However with new leads and developments the technology is now available at a much cheaper and accessible price. The research team made use of the NeuroSky Mindset, a $100 brainwave sensor that connects to a computer through bluetooth.

For authentication to be successful the computer will need to accurately and consistently distinguish brainwave patterns from someone else’s. The key will be to find a mental task that is unique to the user and that they will not mind repeating on a daily basis. Although the research still has a long way to go, findings were presented at the  Seventeenth International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security and at the 2013 Workshop on Usable Security in Okinawa, Japan.

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Featured Image by Imogen Coulter