Lyin' Eyes: Lie detector proves the eyes don't lie; now Eugene men work to make it legal

A lie detector called Eye Detect picks up on brain activity through the eyes. It's legal to use in 33 states - but not Oregon. Watch #LiveOnKMTR NBC 16 at 6:30 p.m. Monday for more on this technology. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. -- A 21st century technology is bringing new meaning to an old saying that the eyes are the window to the soul.

It's a lie detector called Eye Detect that picks up on brain activity through the eyes.

"Since you have to think a little bit harder when you lie because, you have to sort of say, 'OK, what do I, OK' and just that split second, that's what it's measuring," Robert Gross said.

Gross is a former Lane County Sheriff's Deputy and polygraph examiner, now looking to expand the use of this technology.

Gross's website lists 33 states where Eye Detect can be used.

The thing is - it's not legal in Oregon.

How does it work?

When you lie, certain parts of your brain activate, your eyes dilate and you just can't control it.

"It's tremendous stuff," Gross said.

The system has about 900 tests for all different uses, like parole and probation, treatment providers, infidelity, even to test the credibility of political candidates.

For example, Peter Shannon is a counselor and clinical sex offender therapist.

He has to be able to trust his patients. He needs to know they're telling the truth if he asks things like, have you been in contact with a minor or do you have any undisclosed social media accounts.

"Things that they must do or can't do to enhance community safety, safety in the families and so forth so we're interested in making sure that they're compliant with those," Shannon said.

He said instead of taking their word for it or waiting weeks for a polygraph, this is a quick, cost-effective, accurate alternative.

One thing is getting in the way: Oregon law.

Law from 1975 prohibits use of Eye Detect

Oregon statute from 1975 states a person can't use a device other than a polygraph "to test or question an individual for the purpose of detecting deception or verifying the truth of statements."

"How much advancement has been made is just phenomenal and yet we can't use this because of the way the statute was written forty plus years ago," Gross said.

Gross and Shannon are trying to get that statute amended.

"It's just a mater of time and we're going to persevere in order to make sure that happens in our state," Shannon said.

State. Sen. James Manning is looking into the possibility of introducing legislation next session that would legalize Eye Detect in Oregon.

He's most interested in using it as a tool to exonerate people who are wrongfully accused of a crime.

Manning said he'll be talking to colleagues over the next few months and doing some more research.

He wants make sure there wouldn't be any unintended consequences, like employers using it as an invasive tool when hiring.

Gross and Shannon say they hope is that it will take off not just for public safety use, but also for hiring teachers or youth pastors, for screening refugees, for divorce hearings, or anything else really.

Because whatever the case, whoever it is, they say this technology is proof, the eyes don't lie.

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