Guilt or innocence will soon be determined by brain wave technology, a New Zealand professor says.
University of Canterbury academics are investigating the forensic potential of brain scanning technology, also known as 'brain-fingerprinting'.
The technology has already been used in a number of high-profile court cases in the US to help determine guilt or innocence and scientists here think it could have the potential to add a revolutionary new dimension to criminal investigations.
The project, led by Robin Palmer from the University of Canterbury, said it was not a lie-detector but a way of finding out if the person knew something or not.
"It's basically a method of determining whether somebody has certain information in their brain.
"If you know something about something it will show as a sort of peak brainwave. If you don't know something about an item it will come as a sort of flat line."
He said the technology, which consisted of a headband and a programmed laptop computer, could have major advantages in criminal investigations.
"If you've got 10 suspects you can then test the subjects on their knowledge of key areas of the crime that only the suspect would know."
Professor Palmer said investigators would then be able to focus only on those who showed they knew about key aspects of the crime.
The technology has already been used post-conviction where people insisted they had nothing to do with a crime.
"[And] it has been used to prove they had crucial knowledge of what happened at the time, or not, he said.
Professor Palmer said results so far had been very positive, showing a 99.9 percent success rate.
"Nobody ever reports 100 percent ... that is very high.
The research has been sponsored by the New Zealand Law Foundation.
Its executive director, Lynda Hagen, said the foundation was pleased to have supported the ground-breaking research.
The University of Canterbury-based project team also worked with the New Zealand Police and Corrections Services.
Canterbury Police District Commander Superintendent John Price said his officers found participation in the project “a very valuable experience”.
Professor Palmer said the technology has "very exciting potential" and it would not be long before it could be used in New Zealand courts.