Public Release: 

New technology detects lying, paves way for increased security

Mayo Clinic

ROCHESTER, MINN. -- A Mayo Clinic-led study that appears in the Jan. 3, 2002 edition of Nature found that a new high-definition technology that involves measurement of the heat patterns created by the face accurately detected lying in more than 80 percent of cases studied.

The new high definition technology involves the measurement of the heat patterns created by the face; these heat patterns change dramatically with lying.

A research team lead by James Levine, M.D., a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, and supported by Ioannis Pavlidis, Ph.D., 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 organization 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 categorized 83 percent of these subjects as guilty or innocent.

Once refined for practical high-volume use, this technology would enable lying to be rapidly detected and analyzed 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 revolutionize airport screening. However, further testing and development are needed," says Dr. Levine.


Journalists may obtain copies of the article at or by contacting Nature at 202-626-4956 or

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