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The future might see us unlocking our phones just by thinking about it

The future might see us unlocking our phones just by thinking about it

May 20, 2015

I love Touch ID, since it lets me unlock my iPhone faster than ever before and without even lifting my finger off the Home button. What would be really cool, though, would be if I could unlock my phone through something like telepathy. According to a recent story uncovered by Cult of Mac, that might happen one day.

Blair Armstrong, of Spain’s Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language, thinks he is on the brink of developing a system that would allow computers to recognize “neural fingerprints.” Armstrong feels that the most secure form of biometrics technology will be found in measuring the brain response of individual technology users to various words or acronyms.

Armstrong has already begun studying this form of biometrics, and has found that the different people register dramatically different brainwaves in response to words and phrases. Recording the brain signals of 45 volunteers who each read a list of 75 acronyms, including ones like FBI and DVD, Armstrong has begun developing a system that can match the response to the correct individual. Currently, Armstrong’s system is only 94 percent accurate, but that’s a great beginning and one that would make it much more difficult to hack into someone’s phone than existing systems do.

Unfortunately, there’s one pretty major catch right now. In addition to the accuracy challenge, reading brain signals currently requires attaching electrodes to the user’s scalp. That’s just not something Apple is likely to ask you to do, but progress is being made to make the process less invasive. Apple was able to integrate a heart rate sensor into their wearable device, so perhaps one day they can build a sensor that allows you to briefly hold your iPhone against your forehead to read the brain signals and unlock the phone.

Until then, we will just have to be satisfied with Touch ID sensors.

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