Many techies have dreamed of the day when they can control things by simply thinking about them, and that reality is yet a step closer thanks to researchers at the University of California Berkeley’s School of Information and a $99 brainwave device. Using NeuroSky’s Mindset wearable EEG headset and custom software, users have successfully replaced passwords with passthoughts.
While one might be inclined to imagine a huge, expensive headset beyond the means of the average consumer, NeuroSky’s brainwave headset is priced at only $99, and connects to a computer or mobile device via Bluetooth connectivity. The headset has an ear-piece for audio, a grounding clip that goes on the ear, and a small sensor that rests on the forehead. In many ways, it resembles a cross beween an audio headset and an augmented reality eye piece.
Using this device, the researchers measured participants’ brainwaves and were able to use the resulting data to unlock a computer using a so-called passthought rather than a password. The passthought involves thinking of a specific thing, such as a word repeatedly or a certain movement. Such a method is more secure than a conventional password, and takes biometric security to a whole new level.
Just like placing a finger on a biometric scanner won’t unlock a computer unless it has the right fingerprint, using a brainwave headset to think of the passthought won’t unlock the computer unless it is the owner. This is because one’s brainwaves are unique, and one person thinking of something won’t have the same pattern as another person thinking the same thing. Of course, recovering a forgotten passthought is sure to be more difficult than recovering a forgotten password.