A Mayo Clinic-led study has found that lying can be accurately detected more than 80 % of the time simply by measuring changing heat patterns created by an individual’s face.
A research team lead by James Levine, M.D., a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, and supported by Ioannis Pavlidis, Ph.D. at Honeywell Laboratories, based their work on the concept that people about to perform such deceptive acts give off physiological signals, such as excessive blood flow to certain areas of the face. When these signals are detected, via high definition thermal imaging equipment, they can significantly assist authorities in detecting deception.
The advanced thermal imaging technology was developed as part of a collaborative effort between Mayo Clinic and Honeywell Laboratories, the global research and development organisation for Honeywell International.
‘The technology represents a new and potentially accurate method of lie detection,’ says Dr. Levine. ‘The development holds promise for practical application in high-level security operations, such as airport security and border checkpoints.
‘The thermal imaging technology detects the subtle changes in metabolism in parts of the body. When an individual is exposed to the thermal imaging camera and is being deceptive, the computer detects the warming around the eyes,’ Dr. Levine says.
Clinical trials of the technology were conducted using a mock crime scenario. The thermal imaging system correctly categorised 83 % of these subjects as guilty or innocent.
Once refined for practical high-volume use, this technology would enable lying to be rapidly detected and analysed without physical contact, in the absence of trained staff and in a variety of physical settings.
‘If the technology proves this accurate in the airport, it could revolutionise airport screening. However, further testing and development are needed,’ says Dr. Levine.