Password stolen, reset my brain please!

Capturing the "brainprint" or resetting a previous one... Credit: Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University

It's getting weird!

I have problems in remembering all the passwords I need to remember and I often dream of a secure biometric identification that would get rid of all my passwords, once and for all.

Biometric systems exist and are common place today. I use my fingerprint on my iPhone several times a day. Yet, sometimes I got wet fingers and it no longer works. Sometimes I am wearing gloves and ... it does not work. Sometimes the iPhone decides that it is no longer as secure as it should be and asks for a password. 

The problem is that if I look for a biometrics that always recognises me, I am increasing the chances that it will mistake someone else to be me. There is a compromise between being recognised all the times and being certain that no-one else can take my place and be recognised as if he were me.

Now researchers seem to have found a biometric system that is absolutely foolproof: measuring my brain electrical activity when carrying out some task, like recognising an image or a sound.

At Binghampton University researchers have observed that the electrical activity of a person looking at a cherry differs from the one of another person looking at the same cherry (or whatever else) or listening to a word elicits different electrical activities in different brains. This uniqueness can be exploited for a foolproof biometric identification. 

Experiments have shown that this electrical activity is leading to 100% correct identification with 0% false positive. Suppose now that someone manages to steal your brain signature. Well, as soon as you realise that you can reset the signature and rather than thinking about a cherry to open the door you can think about a strawberry!  Much easier that regrow a finger to create a different fingerprint, if your gets stolen!

The problem with this brain signature is having to wear a sort of helmet with sensors picking up the electrical activity. 

However, in Germany, researchers have invented a new way to leverage on the specificity of our skull by creating a different brain (skull) signature using a non invasive modified glasses. They have used for the demo augmented reality glasses having the loudspeaker sending an audio signal and picking up the deformation of the sound as it travels through the skull and the brain. These deformations are unique to each of us and can be used as a signature.

My bet is that we will see many more ways of using biometrics and my hope, although some of these lean on the "weird" is to be able to get rid of all password by the next decade!

Author - Roberto Saracco

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