The latest in biometrics: read your mind | Innovation

The latest in biometrics: read your mind | Innovation


Let's say you have a bad day: you forget your password, you lose your finger from the fingerprint sensor and you get one-eyed. A horrible day. Seconds before a map falls on you, a question could arise: And how do you authenticate now in your digital services, your mobile, the entrance to your work? Why of facial recognition you no longer trust.

And the creators of experimental model called Brain Password no longer trust anyone: "The existing biometric systems are controversial: once they are disclosed they are forever compromised, nobody can renew their iris or their fingerprint", writes the team of researchers from the universities of New York and Colorado in the presentation of his alternative plan.

The next big bet of biometrics as an identification method is to open doors, unlock phones and register on platforms with the power of your mind. Or something similar. "The most secure cryptographic credentials can be obtained through brain waves of potential related to events," say the creators of Brain Password.

As you may suspect, the idea is that the response of your brain to a specific stimulus is the password. The master key. The Open Sesame more spectacular that technology has allowed us until now. "And all that, how?", You ask, while the piano continues to descend in slow motion over your head, the worst and potentially last day of your life.

It is not magic. We are not even on the technology frontier. The possibility of measuring brain activity takes time between us, in the form of an electroencephalogram. This non-invasive technique obtains the measurements resulting from the electrical impulses emitted by a large number of neurons through a set of electrodes attached to the head of the subject.

"As an analogy of a strong password, which requires numbers, letters and special characters, the design of our brain password also includes a mix of different visual stimuli that strengthen the password"The idea is that each stimulus impacts a different area of ​​the brain." In our design we have selected the images of an animal, a famous human and a segment of text as stimuli for the areas that process declarative memory, facial recognition and reading comprehension, respectively. "

For example, photo of a snow leopard, photo of Leonardo DiCaprio, phrase that says "aspires to inspire". The system would show you this sequence four times and extract the average of your resulting brain waves through a helmet with sensors. Are you who you say you are? Do your brain waves match those previously stored in the database of the place you are trying to access? Pum. Sesame open.

And if they interfere hackers of the dark side? Renewing your brain is not an option either. In fact, if you lose it, your problems are much worse than staying without a password. The good thing about Brain Password is that if the database were compromised, your brains would not lose their effectiveness as far as identification is concerned. The incident can be resolved by modifying the stimuli. You do not need another iris, another finger, another brain. A new sequence of images and text is enough.

This property, which is known as cancelability, is the one that brings the creators of the other systems headlong. We have already told you If someone prints your face in 3D, it is highly likely that you can unlock your phone. We talk to you too of how in 2015 a hacker he managed to replicate Angela Merkel's iris from a photo. You leave fingerprints everywhere.

Once the details of your face, your eye and your finger are in the wrong hands, your ability to identify with them is irretrievably compromised and impossible to recover, unless you want to go through the operating room, which seems a little extreme . That's why cancelation is so important. And for this reason, it is recommended that you use the biometric systems that you already have as a secondary tool, not as the only means of identification.

Another thing you may have noticed in the last thousandths of a second of your life is that you have not found many brain password systems in use in the real world. Well seen. The enormous potential of this method compared to other biometric systems contrasts with the challenges that still have to be put in place. According to another team of Taiwanese researchers, part of the problem is that most of the studies that use the electroencephalogram as an identification method have been carried out under unrealistic conditions.

Implementing this system requires, for example, user-friendly equipment for inexperienced users. But the problem does not end here. The experiments done so far, made in limited time periods, lost effectiveness over time: a functional system would have to be able to recognize users with temporary differences of days, months and even years. To achieve this, we need measures that do not lose relevance in the face of aging, pain, illness or the variety of emotional states that can modify our brain waves.

In the case of identification protocols, it seems that the best option is the one proposed by the creators of Brain Password, since the alternatives of taking measurements of a brain at rest or during the performance of specific tasks are subject to too many variables. In addition, there is the possibility of adapting to the stimulus, that is, on the tenth day, the face of Leonardo DiCaprio does not tell you anything. "One way to prevent this is to change the contents, for example, previous studies have used faces that express emotions and have found that adaptation is reduced, compared to the use of neutral expressions," the Taiwanese explain. You, meanwhile, do not tempt your luck: try to keep your fingers, keep your irides safe, do not forget your passwords and be careful with the pianos.

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