Thought ID – Field Study in Biometric Security
How has the pervasiveness of biometric authentication in consumer tech affected the behavior of millennials over time? Thought ID is a concept for a new way to authenticate: a wearable neuroimaging device which lets you to simply think, and unlock. Authenticating with a fingerprint sensor requires minimal effort, and facial recognition requires even less. It was clear from our research that users adopted biometric authentication due to its ease of use, not increased security. We wanted to push this further and explore something much more invasive. How far would people go to theoretically improve their security? Without any notable, fictional portrayals of neuroimaging for authentication, we had the opportunity to see participants' initial reactions, free of preconceived notions around technical feasibility or social implications. Participants noted that with biometrics “you’re trading convenience for risk.” We observed that some were willing to trade incredibly private data (i.e. thought patterns) if there was a clear enough benefit. “If [the Thought ID device] was always on me... I could use this for a lot of different things!” As long as participants saw the benefit of convenience, they seemed willing to sacrifice their personal data to a great extent.