Brain scanning may be used in security checks

brain patterns could become the latest subject of biometric scanning
after EU researchers successfully tested technology to verify
­identities for security checks.

[] The experiments, which also
examined the potential of heart rhythms to authenticate individuals,
were conducted under an EU-funded inquiry into biometric systems that
could be deployed at airports, borders and in sensitive locations to
screen out terrorist suspects.

Another series of tests fitted a
"sensing seat" to a truck to record each driver’s characteristic seated
posture in an attempt to spot whether commercial vehicles had been

Details of the Humabio (Human Monitoring and
Authentication using Biodynamic Indicators and Behaviourial Analysis)
pilot projects have been published amid further evidence of biometric
technologies penetrating everyday lives.

The Foreign Office plans
to spend up to £15m on fixed and mobile security devices that use
methods including "Facial recognition (two and/or three dimensional),
fingerprint recognition, iris recognition and vein imaging palm

The biometric sensors and systems, it appears, will
primarily be deployed to protect UK embassies around the world. The
contract, about which the FCO declined to elaborate further, also
mentions "surveillance" and "data collection" services.

The Home
Office, meanwhile, has confirmed rapid expansion plans of automated
facial recognition gates: 10 will be operating at major UK airports by

Passengers holding the latest generation of passports
travelling through Manchester and Stansted are already being checked by
facial-recognition cameras.

Biometric identity checks are also
becoming more common in the world of commercial gadgets. New versions
of computer laptops and mobile phones are entering the market with
built-in fingerprint scanners to prevent other people running up large
bills and misusing pilfered hi-tech equipment.

Among security
experts there is a preference for developing biometric security devices
that do not rely on measuring solely one physiological trait: offering
choice makes scanning appear less intrusive and allows for

The holy grail of the biometrics
industry is a scanning mechanism that is socially acceptable in an era
of mass transit and 100 per cent accurate. Researchers are eager to
produce ’non-contact‘ biometric systems that can check any individual’s
identity at a distance.

The US government’s secretive IARPA
(Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity) is seeking
development proposals to enhance such technologies. Insisting that it
is not interested in ‚contact-type‘ biometrics, it asks for ideas that
will "significantly advance the intelligence community’s ability to
achieve high-confidence match performance … [for] high fidelity
biometric signatures".

The Humabio project, based in Greece, is
involved more in blue-sky scientific thinking than in intelligence
work. Its research, highlighted in the latest issue of Biometric
Technology Today, is at a "pre-commercial, proof-of-concept stage".