10 September 2013

Brain Wave Biometrics To Secure Vehicles, Drivers

Researchers in the field of biometrics are tapping brain waves to authenticate a driver’s ability be behind the wheel. New research to be published in the International Journal of Biometrics demonstrates how brain waves can be used for vehicles in cases where drivers of vehicles are carrying valuable or sensitive materials.

Using brain waves as opposed to other forms of biometric verification can provide constant authentication, which will halt the vehicle or alert authorities if status changes. The authentication method can work for a number of applications such as for vehicles carrying valuable commodities, money or sensitive materials as well as public transportation vehicles and taxis. Brain waves are also useful to verify sobriety for drivers.

Research from Isao Nakanishi of the Graduate School of Engineering at Tottori University and a number of his colleagues looked into the use of brain waves in such instances. The research explains that conventional biometric systems such as a fingerprint or iris scans are set up for “one-time-only” authentication, as in authentication to allow a driver to start a car. “But if an imposter replaces the authenticated user in a hijacked car, for instance, such systems have no way of verifying that the person currently driving the car is the legitimate driver and that the hijacker hasn’t thrown the owner from the car or tied them up in the boot,” a statement on the research said.

Brain waves provide a persistent signal that a receiver can observe and use to authenticate at intervals or on a constant basis. The method is able to verify that the driver remains the same, and is in a healthy state and able to drive.

Researchers say that an authentication system based on password entry or biometric means such as iris scanning to check that the driver is still the legal driver, or in a condition to drive, is not safe.

Such a biometric device that measures brain waves is likely to require the driver to wear headgear with sensors.

“The Tottori team has now developed a system that can process electroencephalogram (EEG) signals in the alpha-beta band of the brain’s electrical activity and verify the signals it receives against a pre-programmed sample from the legitimate driver,” the report said.

“Brain waves are generated by the neural activities in the cerebral cortex; therefore, it is hidden in the body and cannot be bypassed,” the team said.

The developed system records the pattern of alpha-beta brain waves of a driver with their eyes open carrying out the normal functions of driving. Researchers suggest that an alternative brain scan can be used to measure drivers with their eyes closed and not carrying out any task.

Vocational drivers, such as drivers of armored cars, public transportation vehicles and military vehicles might be able to use the system to authenticate drivers by wearing headgear. In order to make the technology usable commercially, to authenticate drivers based on sobriety and alertness, sensors would have to be built into the car, such as in the headrest of the driver’s seat.

“Importantly, the ongoing authentication of drivers using their brain waves would facilitate a simple way to preclude starting the engine of the driver is intoxicated with drugs or alcohol, or even just too tired because their brain waves would not match their normal pattern under such circumstances,” the report said.

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