Home / Technology / Brain Computer Interface (BCI) Will Revolutionize the Way People Interact

Brain Computer Interface (BCI) Will Revolutionize the Way People Interact

by | Apr 23, 2022 | Technology, Utopia




Imagine you could control smart devices using only your mind without having to intervene physically. Or what if you could play a computer game without touching the controller. Thanks to a technology that translates brain waves, someday we will be able to wear special wearables that read our thoughts and bring them to computer interfaces.

What is brain computer interface?

Brain-computer interfaces or BCIs are systems that can link our cerebrums directly to computers. It is a system that allows direct communication between the human mind and an external device. It works by using electrodes to record brain signals and translate them into computer languages. BCI can be used to detect neural activity in the human brain.

A device called an Electroencephalogram (EEG) gathers neural activity from the user and stores it on a hard drive. A signal processing module then extracts the signals from the data and translates them into commands to perform actions on the screen. EEG is a form of brain-computer interface.

Currently, two types of BCIs exist. The first type is called invasive and is intended to communicate with the brain directly. The second type is noninvasive which is a method to monitor and record neural activity without having to damage the patient.

man wearing an Electroencephalogram or EEG cap in front of a monitor
Image by ulrichw from Pixabay

Elon Musk has entered the BCI space with his startup, Neuralink. The tech entrepreneur wants to merge the human mind with AI using a chip implanted into our brain which is an invasive technique. The non-invasive brain-reading tech measure electrical activity on the scalp. EEG and other wearables are used. You only have to think and the technology will do the rest.

Wearables are noninvasive as sensors in them read brainwaves and translate them into commands for electronic devices. Noninvasive BCIs have a lower spatial resolution but can record single neurons. EEG records electrical activity in the brain using small metal discs attached to the scalp. Electrical impulses from brain cells cause wavy lines on the EEG recording.

BCIs are an important part of the new world. Increasingly, people with disabilities are using them to control their devices. But while these systems are still in the research stage, they have the potential for medical and military applications. One day, they may be commercially available or deployed on the battlefield.

As these developments are further developed, the public will have access to BCIs. So it is also important to understand how it works. A BCI is an adaptive computer device, which means that it must adapt to the user’s brain signals to ensure the correct operation. This requires the use of CNS plasticity and BCI facilitation to operate effectively.

The human Central Nervous System (CNS) is composed of the brain and spinal cord and generates signals through nerves. Hence, the BCI can be used to transmit signals from the CNS to a computer without the user moving a single muscle. The performance of a BCI must be more reliable than its natural muscle-based function.

However, this challenge can be addressed by incorporating signals from more than one cortical area. By incorporating multiple areas of the CNS, a BCI can become context-sensitive and recognize appropriate output.

Importance of brain-computer interface

There are a number of people who are overwhelmingly supportive of the development of a brain-computer interface. Especially, people with mental illnesses and disabilities. The public also supports the development of this technology for healthy individuals. The regulated and healthy development of BCIs would improve the lives of millions of people without compromising human identity.

Its goal is to restore a person’s cognitive and sensorimotor functions. Today’s BCIs work by implanting a small computer chip in the ear to replace the missing or damaged inner organ. The implant then translates sound waves into electrical signals. Another development is implantable systems that send visual information to the brain.

analysis of the anatomy
Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels

Another major benefit of BCI technology is the ability to classify EEG data obtained over the sensorimotor cortex. This information could lead to a better understanding of motor parameters and intentions. With its direct connection between the mind and external devices, BCIs can be a promising treatment for various conditions.

These new devices can be either non-invasive or invasive and could even be implantable or inhaled. If the technology can be made comfortable and reliable, it could help people living with disabilities. However, the development of BCIs is not without challenges. Some argue that technology could cause more harm than good.

Several years of research and development are underway to advance this technology. But in the meantime, the challenges remain and so do the benefits. Research into the BCI market is still evolving and is divided into several segments. Different factors, including new hardware, new mathematical theories and advances in robotics, are influencing the field.

The home control segment will see the fastest growth as brain-computer interfaces are increasingly being used to monitor living conditions and provide assistance to people. Eventually, the technology will be integrated into smart environments and the Internet of Things. It may be the perfect solution for a person suffering from a physical disability.

The BCI may help a person with a brain injury or a brain disorder perform physical tasks. However, the person must be able to control his gaze, as this is required for SMR-based BCIs. Hence, the use of BCI should be accompanied by some research and testing. Several studies have addressed the philosophical and psychosocial aspects of its use.

Considering the perspective of people with disabilities, these studies can help researchers understand how the experience of using a BCI varies from that of people with normal functions. Users have reported a positive impact on their self-esteem. And some even reported experiencing the freedom of having some residual muscle control.

Photo by Stéphane Bernard on Unsplash

Facebook, however, has embraced the technology and has recently purchased the brain-computer interface company CTRL-labs. The goal is to improve BCIs for a wide range of applications, including the translation of thoughts into speech. It will also enable patients to control robotic devices and other prosthetics.

Impact of brain computer interface

There are many potential benefits of brain-computer interfaces for people with disabilities. Patients and caregivers may have high expectations about BCI technologies. However, it is important to note that its workability depends on a number of factors, including cognitive capacity and level of disability. Patients may experience significant distress if the technology does not work as it is intended.

A BCI will improve the quality of life for aging people. As the brain ages and memory becomes more fragile, so using an interface can help restore function. Some people with spinal injuries have difficulty controlling their muscles but using an interface can bypass this connection and allow them to move. In the future, this technology could even help people control robotic or prosthetic devices.

The military is one major beneficiary of BCIs, with many potential applications. The technology would enable soldiers in the field to communicate without sound and it could also be used in interrogation and espionage. It could be a useful tool to enhance the physical power of military personnel. BCI could help combat situations by enabling people to communicate with robots through thought.

In addition to being an agent, it also provides opportunities for social participation and self-definition. People who have cognitive problems may be able to communicate with their loved ones through BCI. One BCI project that has already been developed is called NextMind. This device is capable of translating mental handwriting into text and vice versa.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Researchers have been developing a BCI with clear goals, including the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities. The technology allows for the restoration of useful functions for people with severe paralysis. People with hemiparesis, for instance, often struggle to move their arms, which limits their careers and quality of life. People with such conditions can learn to use a BCI to regain speech, locomotion, and posture.

Future of brain-computer interface

In the future, brain-machine interface may not only read neural activity but may even be able to intentionally influence it. With such advancement, the brain can be rewired to experience pleasure and pain. It will also be able to evoke or inhibit certain emotions. This will open up a world of potential benefits.

The future benefits of a BCI may extend to robotic arms and prosthetic limbs. Some companies are already developing devices that can transmit messages from the brain directly to the muscles. These devices would enable quadriplegics and paraplegics to move their limbs. Ultimately, BCIs may be used as a permanent replacement for the hands or arms of severely disabled people.

Another potential benefit of brain-computer interfaces is the development of cloud minds involving human brainpower. Ultimately, cloudminds would be able to connect humans with other brains and machine thinkers around the world. However, its future depends on the research and development of comfortable and convenient hardware.

Furthermore, it could improve people’s cognitive performance, attention spans and memory. It could even enhance their physical power. Besides being helpful for a variety of purposes, BCIs could also enable future generations to communicate with machines without moving their fingers or facing pain.

Despite the potential benefits of BCIs, there are still many drawbacks. First, users must suppress their emotions in order to be effective. This can be difficult, as our emotions play a major role in our lives. BCI users must learn to focus on tasks by fading out their issues. Some users believe that it will not change their self-understanding, but they still have a choice.

It is important that users feel that they are responsible for their actions and that BCI does not interfere with their personal lives. The technology has some major limitations and is still considered orphan technology. Initial implantation and technical support are costly and BCIs require significant investments for ongoing maintenance.

The future of the brain computer interface is still uncharted territory. It is unclear whether the technology will improve or hinder human abilities. While the concept has long fascinated researchers, the technology has been slow to catch on. However, it is likely to be a game-changer. If they do develop, the future of this technology may be bright.

Recently, a number of companies are investing in non-invasive BCIs and the necessary hardware may eventually be injected or inhaled. Moreover, the development of machine learning software and artificial intelligence has helped the technology progress faster than anticipated. More sophisticated BCI systems can better correlate electrical impulses in the brain with actual thoughts.

Neuralink is trying to connect human brains to AI through threads that are implanted into the brain. The threads can detect neural activity and connect to a device that sits behind the ear. The device can then send signals to a PC. The company’s goal is to develop a BCI that works through the ECoG method.

The technology relies on the same methods as electroencephalography, with electrodes embedded in a thin plastic pad placed over the cortex and underneath the dura mater. Neuralink has already performed trials on monkeys but the promise of BCI could become more tangible once another breakthrough occurs in the field.

A recent Stanford University study highlighted the importance of BCI technology. The researchers implanted electrodes in the motor cortex of three patients with paralysis. The signals were transmitted to a computer and the patients were able to move an on-screen cursor by visualizing their hand movements. Once the electrodes were implanted, the patients were able to control the cursor on a screen using their imagination.

With the help of this technology, the patients were able to perform complex tasks on a computer. Though currently being used for therapeutic purposes, the technology has much broader applications. It is expected that this technology will eventually be the norm in many parts of society. But many hurdles must be overcome before the technology can be used on a larger scale.