Thermal Imaging Turns up the Head on Liars


Anyone with a burning conscience might want to look away now.

Thermal Lie Detector: What researchers are saying about thermal imaging cameras applied to psychological studies.

A new system of lie detection using thermal cameras is being developed by UK scientists at the University of Bradford. Research is still in the preliminary stage, however reports have shown a two in three success rate in test subjects.

Professor Hassan Ugail, the director of the Center for Visual Computing at the university explains the science behind the technology, “When someone is making something up on the spot, brain activity usually changes and you can detect this through the thermal camera.” The heat sensing camera can notice variations in the periorbital area, which is the area around the eyes and cheeks. This region is believed to show the greatest changes in temperature and expression when someone is lying during questioning.

Using the thermal camera in conjunction with Facial Action Units (the system developed by American psychologist Paul Ekman and Walter V. Friesen to categorize facial expressions) the information is calculated through a mathematical formula to determine how honest the individual has been.

This thermal technology opens many possibilities for use in interviewing, questioning, and for security purposes. Furthermore, UK airports are scheduled to begin testing using this technology in the upcoming months to assist the current profiling techniques.