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“Brainprint” Biometric ID Hits 100% Accuracy

Could an EEG-based system be the perfect biometric key for really high security situations?

3 min read
“Brainprint” Biometric ID Hits 100% Accuracy
Open Your Mind: Binghamton University professor Sarah Laszlo prepares to peer into the peculiarities of a person’s brainwaves.
Photo: Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University

Psychologists and engineers at Binghamton University in New York say they’ve hit a milestone in the quest to use the unassailable inner workings of the mind as a form of biometric identification. They came up with an electroencephalograph system that proved 100 percent accurate at identifying individuals by the way their brains responded to a series of images. But EEG as a practical means of authentication is still far off.

Many earlier attempts had come close to 100 percent accuracy but couldn’t completely close the gap. “It’s a big deal going from 97 to 100 percent because we imagine the applications for this technology being for high-security situations,” says Sarah Laszlo, the assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton who led the research with electrical engineering professor Zhanpeng Jin.

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This Implant Turns Brain Waves Into Words

A brain-computer interface deciphers commands intended for the vocal tract

10 min read
A man using an interface, looking at a screen with words on it.

A paralyzed man who hasn’t spoken in 15 years uses a brain-computer interface that decodes his intended speech, one word at a time.

University of California, San Francisco

A computer screen shows the question “Would you like some water?” Underneath, three dots blink, followed by words that appear, one at a time: “No I am not thirsty.”

It was brain activity that made those words materialize—the brain of a man who has not spoken for more than 15 years, ever since a stroke damaged the connection between his brain and the rest of his body, leaving him mostly paralyzed. He has used many other technologies to communicate; most recently, he used a pointer attached to his baseball cap to tap out words on a touchscreen, a method that was effective but slow. He volunteered for my research group’s clinical trial at the University of California, San Francisco in hopes of pioneering a faster method. So far, he has used the brain-to-text system only during research sessions, but he wants to help develop the technology into something that people like himself could use in their everyday lives.

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