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 Brain activity provides novel biometric key

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Date posted: 19/01/2007

Brain activity provides novel biometric key

Dimitrios Tzovaras and colleagues at the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, in Greece have developed a security system that identifies individuals, purely by the unique pattern of electrical activity within their brains.

Like a fingerprint, each brain has a different pattern of electrical signals within it. Some areas are relatively uniform across brains, others vary wildly, making it possible to determine individuals, by the pattern of electrical discharges.

The authentication system requires a user to have EEG measurements taken beforehand with further measurements for each authentication test. This is done via a removable cap, which communicates wirelessly with a computer that analyses the data gathered.

The cap has fewer electrodes than are normally used for EEG measurements, but can still provide enough information for authentication, according to Tzovaras.

Currently users must sit quietly with their eyes shut during each test. "We ask them to close their eyes and not speak"," Tzovaras says, which provides "a much clearer picture".

However, John Daugman, a biometrics researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK, questions the practicality of the approach. He says an EEG cap could prove too cumbersome and invasive. "Wearing a wired helmet with sensors on one's scalp might change the ambience of the workplace somewhat," he says.

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