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Brain biometrics’ growing demand sparks privacy concerns and new products

Brain biometrics’ growing demand sparks privacy concerns and new products

The VR/AR market is set to grow dramatically as users are looking for enhanced gaming experiences and new ways to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. Various new developments by Tobii, OpenBCI, Valve, and Apple seek to address these new customer demands. Yet, a recent report released by OpenBCI also signals growing privacy concerns about brain biometrics used in these technologies.

OpenBCI releases biometrics and brain privacy report

OpenBCI published a new report on the state of privacy in biometrics and brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. The findings show that 85 percent of the study’s subjects use biometrics instead of passwords, with 53 percent of respondents feeling more secure through these technologies.

Further, a significant majority of respondents are eager to biometric technology for use cases other than authentication and verification. This includes biometrics for brain stimulation, specifically to improve physical and mental health and performance.

Despite the growing interest in these technologies, respondents also showed an almost equal amount of concern with regards to having brain sensors read their signals. Accordingly, 72 percent are concerned, including 17 percent who are ‘extremely’ concerned.

“This survey shows us that while people are interested in the potential for biometric and brainwave technologies to improve their lives, they are rightly concerned about that data being misused, or falling into the wrong hands,” said OpenBCI Founder and CEO Conor Russomanno. “At OpenBCI, we’re deeply committed to ethical innovation so that discoveries are made with the utmost care for safety and privacy. It’s the job of all of us who are in this field to work together to protect people’s biometric data. Ultimately, it’s our firm belief that democratization of this technology, and allowing the user to understand and control their brainwave data, will provide a safe and innovative future.”

Tobii brings eye-tracking to OpenBCI VR gaming headsets

Immersive gaming will soon be enhanced thanks to a new partnership between eye-tracking firm Tobii, gaming company Valve, and OpenBCI. Tobii announced that it will begin to collaborate on a research project to trial its eye-tracking technology coupled with Valve’s Index VR hardware to be implemented in OpenBCI’s Galea gaming headsets, which merge next-generation biometrics with mixed reality.

The eye-tracking solution will be implemented into specially built developer units for Galea’s Beta stage.

“We are excited to work with Valve and OpenBCI to explore the future of immersive gaming by combining the power of Tobii eye-tracking and OpenBCI’s advanced brain-computer interface technology,” said Anand Srivatsa, Division CEO of Tobii Tech.

Tobii sees this partnership as the ideal opportunity to enter the growing VR gaming market. Their eye-tracking technology will enhance OpenBCI’s Galea headset, which makes use of neurotechnology for brain control interfacing. The Galea headset will combine image-based eye tracking with EEG, EMG, EOG, EDA, and PPG.

Neurosity launches EEG wearable device

Neurotechnology firm Neurosity announced the launch of its Crown wearable EEG device. The Crown is a wearable computer that sits on top of the human head and helps users to gain optimal brain performance through neural wave technology. The device runs Neurosity’s Music Shift app, which uses a user’s Spotify profile to harmonize its waves with music the user enjoys. Crown runs a 1.8Ghz CPU and consists of next-generation rubber sensors.

“With Crown, Neurosity has invented a whole new category of wearable EEG focus device that lets you take control of your focus no matter where you go,” said Neurosity Co-Founder Alex Castillo “With Crown, users will understand how to shift into focus and stay there.”

Neurosity also says its EEG hardware maintains biometric data security and privacy by design.

The Crown is available for pre-order now and slated to ship in May, retailing for $899.

New details regarding Apple’s proposed mixed reality headset

Tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo announced details on Apple’s planned mixed reality headset, writes MacRumors. According to the report the headset is set for release in mid-2022 and will be followed by Apple’s augmented reality glasses in 2025.

Kuo predicts the headset will consist of Sony Micro OLED displays and optical modules to give users a mixed reality experience consisting of both see-through AR and VR technology. The device is to initially weigh between 200 to 300 grams. Kuo added that if Apple can further adjust technical concerns this weight might be reduced to 100 to 200 grams.

“We predict that Apple’s MR/AR product roadmap includes three phases: helmet type by 2022, glasses type by 2025, and contact lens type by 2030–2040. We foresee that the helmet product will provide AR and VR experiences, while glasses and contact lens types of products are more likely to focus on AR applications.” Kuo wrote.

Albeit not being fully mobile and independent as an iPhone would be, Kuo describes the headset as being portable and consisting of enough independent storage and computing power.

“Although Apple has been focusing on AR, we think the hardware specifications of this product can provide an immersive experience that is significantly better than existing VR products. We believe that Apple may highly integrate this helmet with video-related applications (e.g., Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, etc.) as one of the key selling points,” Kuo added.

Kuo also predicted a set of Apple contact lenses coming in the near future.

Apple has filed numerous patents related to biometric sensors and authentication on wearable devices, including headsets.

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