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Polygraphs have been the standard for deception detection ever since the technology was invented in 1921, but a Utah-based company called Converus claims to have come up with a faster, cheaper less invasive way to tell if someone is lying.
The test is called EyeDetect. It uses a high-resolution infrared camera to track changes in pupil size and differences in the way a subject reads statements.
"If a person is under mental load, the pupils dilate," says John Kircher, chief scientist at Converus and one of the inventors of EyeDetect. "They take longer to read the statements, the fixations in the statements are closer together and they do more re-reading of the statements."
Kircher has been experimenting with credibility testing through eye tracking since 2004, and published his findings in 2012. He and a colleague are also credited with inventing the first computerized polygraph in 1991.
The test takes about 30 minutes and is completely automated, meaning that it can be given to a large number of people without risking the possibility of bias from a human administrator. Results are almost instantaneous and about 86 percent accurate according to Converus. But still, the company stresses that EyeDetect is not meant to replace polygraphs completely. It's just another tool to detect deceit.
A number of law enforcement agencies in the United States, including the Salt Lake City Police Department, are already using EyeDetect to screen potential hires. But a nationwide law prevents non-governmental companies from running the same test on their candidates.
Converus says it has sold its tech to 34 countries, where EyeDetect is being used by banks, casinos, and financial institutions in addition to law enforcement groups. The company has also been in discussions with the State Department to use EyeDetect as a screening tool for immigrants and visa applicants.
"It's an ideal tool because it takes 30 minutes or less, it's non-intrusive, it can be administered anywhere in any language, and it can be utilized to verify very quickly whether or not someone has ties to terrorism or they have a past of committing serious crimes," says Coverus CEO, Todd Mickelson.
Each EyeDetect station costs about $4,000, and the company charges an additional fee to evaluate each exam.