Oh, hello future: 'Passthoughts' are the new passwords

NEED TO KNOW
  • No typing required: Your thoughts can now be your password
  • Headset reads brainwaves, unlocks your websites
  • 'Pass-thought' can be thinking about your breathing or a song
Oh, hello future: 'Passthoughts' are the new passwords

All right then, future. You're finally starting to live up to the hype. It was pretty touch and go there for a while, especially right after the new millennium when everyone was expecting your flying cars to be here and all we got was Friendster instead.

But now? Now?? Well, now you are killing it. 3D-printed prosthetic limbs, billboards that produce drinking water in the desert, a machine that builds a human heart in seven days. The present is a good time for the future.

And now, along comes the ability to think your password.

No typing. No swiping. No finger-printing or retina-scanning. New technology being crafted at UC-Berkeley would make your own thoughts the only password you need to check e-mail, sign on to your bank account or log into your favorite websites.

According to Berkeley's School of Information, the forehead probe on a widely available, $199 NeuroSky Mindset headset can be used to recognize your brainwaves at the moment you're prompted to think your "passthought."

More mind control: Don't scan for music -- let the music scan YOU!

The headset features a built-in sensor (an electroencephalogram, or EEG) which connects via Bluetooth to a computer -- and that's all that's required to guard your private digital information.

So long, 8-character minimum, case sensitive, at least two numbers and alternating vowel-consonant password requirements!

To set your passthought, simpler is better. According to researchers, even just thinking about your breathing does the trick. Study participants set their passthought by "counting objects of a specific color, imagining singing a song of their choice, or simply focusing on their own breathing." More complicated or involved thoughts didn't work as well because, basically, they were annoying to repeat several times a day.

The Berkeley team says the device worked 99% of the time -- which is already an improvement over our too-typical routine of typing, retyping, clicking 'Forgot Password?' and resetting our password.

Any technology that can replace that process -- and in fact replaces the very word 'password' -- will certainly be embraced.

Attaboy, future!

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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