Using a $100 commercial EEG, a team of researchers from UC Berkeley have developed a biometric login system that could allow "passthoughts" to become a reality.
Passwords and their associated attack vectors have made it fairly evident that we need a different method to secure sensitive information and other digital assets. A team of researchers from UC Berkeley may have developed a viable solution: the ability to use your brain as a biometric identifier and "login by simply thinking of your password."
This "passthought" technology utilizes a commercially available $100 EEG (electroencephalogram) manufactured by Neurosky that features a single electrode that rests over your brain's left frontal lobe. This electrode measures your brainwaves and then transmits them via Bluetooth to a nearby computer. According to research, their EEG has an error rate of under 1 percent, which is comparable to clinical systems that can feature hundreds of electrodes and are far more expensive.
As one would expect with any new technology, UC Berkeley's solution does have a number of obvious issues that would preclude its widespread adoption at this time. First of all, Neurosky's EEG is far from an elegant design, and we imagine that wearing one in public might be a touch embarrassing. Secondly, the 99 percent success rate is not nearly adequate for serious security applications. However, both of these issues are easily fixable; the former could be alleviated by a skin color electrode that is flush with the skin, and the latter through improved EEG hardware and biometric algorithms.