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Students create brainwave authentication system

Last updated: 26 June, 2010
L Subramani, June 26, Bangalore: 22:10 IST

Students of the Citys MS Ramaiah institute of Technology (MSRIT) have developed a system that can capture the brainwaves of a person and use it as an authentication mechanism for personal identification, which they believe can be a component of the UID project.

The system developed as part of the project at the Information Sciences Department, is said to have used methods of capturing brainwaves without trying to stimulate the brain through external activities.

“Like the biometric authentication which uses fingerprints and iris identification to authenticate an individual, the system we have done as part of the project can capture brainwaves of each individual and use it as a password-like mechanism to authenticate him/her,” said Prof Lingaraju G M, research scholar in Brain Computer Interface (BCI) and Head of the Department of Information Sciences at MSRIT.

Lingaraju guided four students of the department to develop the system. With a headset used by those who play games to thought-control the games they play, a person's brainwave is captured. With the help of an application the signal is interpreted and recorded to establish the personal identity of an individual.

“The signal -known as Electro Encephalogram (EEG)- is nothing but the electrical messages fired by the neurons to a particular part of the body. For instance, if you want to move your hand, the brain sends out an appropriate signal to your hands to perform it. The headset -which contains 14 sensors and two electrodes fixed to the temple or scalp of the user- captures the signal,” said Rakshath, the final-year Information Sciences student who is part of the group that had developed the system.

“Users have to perform meditation (calming of the mind) and a short multiplication problem (which takes just 20 seconds) in order for the system to record their brainwaves. This signal is unique to each individual,” said Vinay, another student.
While the headset has been purchased from a company, the system used to record the signals has been developed entirely by students. “This is even better than fingerprinting and other methods, since there is no way this can be tampered with,” said Dharini, another student from the group.

“This can be a component (in the biometric identification) considered by the UIDAI (Universal Identification Authority of India), who had asked for technologists to contribute to the project. We think this is our best attempt to contribute to the project,” Prof Lingaraju added.

Though it is currently applied only for personal identification, the BCI system can be used for many other purposes including for thought-controlled movement of wheelchairs that may make mobility flexible for wheelchair-bound persons.

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