The Future is Here: Passthoughts Replace Passwords

tcdsYou’ve heard of the Muse Headband, or perhaps the Neurosky Mindwave; devices that measure your brainwaves? Well as it happens, researchers at UC Berkley are using the technology to pioneer and new and revolutionary concept: passthoughts! Whereas accessing your computer, tablet or smartphone now is a matter of typing passwords on a (sometimes terribly small) keyboard, in the future it could be as easy as putting on a band and thinking.

Basically, the concept calls for the use of a mind-reading headband as a biometric identifier. Much like a person’s DNA or the blood vessels in their retina are specific to that individual, brainwaves also seem to be unique and can be used to identify them. An especially useful fact, if you want to log into a computer or otherwise prove your identity. Unlike passwords, credit card info or social security numbers, brainwaves cannot be stolen or faked… yet!

To do this, the Berkeley researchers used a $100 commercial EEG (electroencephalogram), in this case the Neurosky. This device resembles a Bluetooth headset, with the slight difference of it having a single electrode that rests on your forehead and measures your brainwaves. These are then transmitted via a Bluetooth to a nearby computer. Much like a clinical EEG, the system has an error rate of less than 1%, but requires a single electrode instead of between 32 and 256.

To develop the brain-biometric process, participants were asked to complete seven different tasks with the EEG equipped. Three of the tasks were generic, requiring the participants to focus on breathing in and out, imagine moving their finger up and down, and listening for an audio tone. The other four tasks required participants to focus on an individual/personalized secret, such as singing a song of their choice, or performing a repetitive action.

brainwavesWhile performing these tasks, their brainwaves were monitored for heuristic patterns. And as it turns out, all seven tasks — even just sitting there and focusing on your own breathing — provided enough information to authenticate the subjects identity. So when it comes right down to it, this means of identifying oneself works effectively, and eliminates the need for passwords and could provide another layer of identity protection. All for the onetime price of $100.

But of course, there are some issues. For one, the bulk and unaesthetic nature of the EEG and the accuracy of the system, but these are both remediable. As it stands, no one would really want to wear a Neurosky EEG in public, but if the electrode were concealable – say, within a Bluetooth headset – this wouldn’t be a problem. As it stand, accuracy is the far more important issue. While a 99% accuracy rate is good, it is not good enough for serious and possibly security-based applications.

?????????????????But looking forward, it is not hard to imagine that the accuracy of the system will increase, as EEG hardware and biometric algorithms improve in quality. It is also very easy to imagine smartphones that can identify their users through their brainwaves, provided they are wearing a Bluetooth headset with an EEG equipped. In addition, computers that come equipped with headbands so people can log in and start working simply by sitting down and issuing the proper thoughts.

Thinking truly long-term, its not hard to imagine that the headband itself will be done away with in favor of a wireless EEG implanted underneath the skin. Much in the same way that these are allowing people to control robotic limbs, they may also allow us to log into computers, type documents, surf the net, and play video games with just our thoughts. Move over Xbox Connect! Here comes Xbox Thinx (patent pending!)



The Future is Here: The Mind-Reading Headband!

Okay, it might not exactly represent mind control, or the pinnacle of mind-machine interface, but it’s certainly a step in that direction. Known as the Muse Headband, this device is capable of reading a wearer’s brainwaves through a series of sensors implanted in the band. It then transmits the information in real-time to a computer or mobile device and lets the user know what kind of state they are in.

In short, the device will be capable of letting a wearer know if they are stressed, losing focus, relaxed, or in a state of deep concentration. According to Interaxon, the developer, people will be able to use this device to develop their concentration skills, learn to keep their cools better, and practice relaxation techniques. The company is currently raising funds for development and intends to include a brain fitness app that will be stocked with guided lessons to exercise your memory, attention span, and relaxation skills.

However, the real potential comes in the form of developing devices that can read brainwaves and use them for the sake of remote control and communications. Just think of it – being able to play your video games, conduct IM chats, and type out those troublesome spreadsheets and essays without ever having to push a button or stroke a key. A new era of laziness will dawn! But perhaps future generations will also be more honed mentally, able to hold their concentration long enough to compose a simple sentence without any errs or ahs. Who knows? Even true telepathy could result!

Hey, we’re venturing into science fiction territory here, nothing is too farfetched! And in the meantime, check out the video below of the Muse Headband in action.

Source:, indigogo