Counting sheep may help you fall asleep. Now, it might help you access your email. Passthoughts technology measures brainwaves and allows users to simply think of their password in order to access protected content.
Researchers at UC Berkeley found that, while wearing a modest $100 brainwave-reading headset, simply concentrating on one’s breathing was enough to be uniquely identified. The device looks like a pair of wireless headphones except for a single probe that touches the user’s forehead in order to measure brain activity. Once users selected a thought sequence and calibrated the headset, Passthoughts had a failure rate of less than one percent.
However, the technology is far from perfect at this point. Some users had difficulty repeating the sequence, moved their bodies while thinking of specific movements, or thought up sequences that were too complex. The most popular tasks for creating a mental password included singing a song in one’s head and counting objects of a certain color.
It is difficult to say how far this technology will advance or how receptive consumers will be to the idea, especially since wearing the special headset is required.
Unfortunately, we are in an age where secure content is being constantly compromised. Typed passwords are fast becoming obsolete and alternatives such as passphrases, biometrics and even a ring are potential successors. At this rate, our information, once secure with simple combination of letters and numbers, might soon require blood samples for us to access.