From New Scientist (4 April):
Our skin may contain millions of tiny “antennas” in the form of microscopic sweat ducts, say researchers in Israel. In experiments, they found evidence that signals produced by bouncing electromagnetic waves off the tiny tubes might reveal a person’s physical and emotional state from a distance.
So far so good, but then:
The research might eventually result in lie detectors that require no physical contact with the subject.
Why the spurious link to deception? The original article doesn’t mention it – the authors’ comment about the possible application of the technique is this:
This phenomenon can be used as the basis for a generic remote sensing technique for providing a spatial map of the sweat gland activity of the examined subjects. As the mental state and sweat gland activity are correlated it has the potential to become a method for providing by remote sensing information regarding some physiological parameters and the mental state of the patients.
I guess that just isn’t as sexy as “hey, what about this as a lie detector!”.
As several erudite commenters on Slashdot have noted, despite the common misconception, lying does not necessarily lead to a stress reaction in the deceiver. And people can have stress reactions when they are telling the truth. So machines that measure stress can be very unreliable detectors of deceit.
- Yuri Feldman, Alexander Puzenko, Paul Ben Ishai, Andreas Caduff, and Aharon J. Agranat (2008). Human Skin as Arrays of Helical Antennas in the Millimeter and Submillimeter Wave Range. Physical Review Letters (vol 100, article 128102)