Skip to main content

Biometric research suggests monitoring your mental well-being for authentication

biometric authentication brainwaves emotions brainimagedarpa1
Researchers have proposed a new method of biometric authentication that analyzes a person’s brainwaves to determine their emotional and mental well-being before granting access to equipment or an application.

Violeta Tulceanu at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania described in her paper, “Brainwave authentication using emotional patterns how she and her researchers are studying the neurological events around different emotions and if this indicator of a sound mind could be applied to authentication.

In their tests, the researchers stimulated a person’s brain using different sounds. The electrical patterns that emerge would, in theory, give some kind of indication of the person’s state of mind. The initial scans of the brain are referred to as an emotional “fingerprint.” This data is then stored and compared against the person’s electrical patterns in the future to find any possible changes before allowing access to a system or program. The researchers hope the data can be used to predict future behavior patterns as well.

Understanding the brain in this way, according to Tulceanu, would help determine a person’s motivation. Some of the practical uses include physical security systems to stop someone entering a building or analyzing a person’s state of mind before granting them access to financial or health data. In one extreme example, the method could be used to inhibit someone of ill mind that usually has access to weaponry or military equipment or to make sure that person was acting on their own accord.

The research is still at an early stage, so don’t expect to see anyone getting their brain scanned before using an ATM anytime soon.

It is another novel approach to biometric authentication, though. As the old methods of passwords and PINs becoming increasingly insecure and unreliable, we’ve seen more and more use cases of fingerprint or iris identifiers. But we’ve also seen researchers toy around with different ideas that are a little outside the box, including a method that identifies someone’s hair protein.

Analyzing emotions as an authentication process is a relatively newer idea. Another researcher, Abdul Serwadda, at Texas Tech University is also examining the efficacy of brainwaves for ongoing authentication. His method involves continually monitoring a user while they are using a system to ensure no one else has taken over after the login process.

Editors' Recommendations

Jonathan Keane
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jonathan is a freelance technology journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. He's previously written for publications and sites…
Check your ports! Researchers find scary vulnerability in Thunderbolt accessories
Apple MacBook-review-USBC-port

A newly discovered vulnerability behind the Thunderbolt port on recent Macs or PCs could leave your computer exposed to an attack. Essentially, when a malicious accessory is plugged into a Thunderbolt port, hackers may be able to gain access to your files and steal data.

Researchers revealed the Thunderclap vulnerability at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, showing how direct memory access, or DMA, used by Thunderbolt ports to speed up access to memory puts your computers at risk. In addition to Thunderbolt ports, the researchers say that the vulnerability also affects a slew of other ports that take advantage of the low-level memory access privilege, including Firewire, Thunderbolt 2 and 3, and USB-C.

Read more
B-Secur HeartKey taps ECG signals to authenticate user identity, monitor health
b secur heartkey uses ecg signals for tech purposes ces 2019 advanced auto steering wheel

B-Secur has taken biometrics to the next level -- while current platforms utilize fingerprint readers, iris scanners, and facial recognition to authenticate user identities, the company's HeartKey technology taps the unique signals of each person's heartbeat.

The science behind the B-Secur HeartKey platform focuses on electrocardiograms, better known as EKG or ECG, which are records of the bioelectrical activity for every heartbeat. The ECG patterns have several distinct features that make them unique for each person, similar to fingerprints, irises, and faces.

Read more
Apple patent hints at biometric authentication for the Apple Watch

While the iPhone has evolved to include different biometric authentication methods, including fingerprint sensors and facial recognition, Apple Watch users have been a little left out. A new patent from Apple, however, suggests that may change in the near future.

The patent essentially describes the use of biometric sensors on the watch that can look at the wearer's wrist skin texture pattern. In other words, using "biometric sensing pixels," the device can look at the pattern of your skin. This would allow users to have their watches automatically unlock when they put on the device.

Read more