Brain-Computer Interface

The Future of Brain-Computer Interface

Elon Musk isn’t the only one in the BCI game. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, recently unveiled plans for a BCI device developed by his company, Meta. This device promises to revolutionize how we interact with technology and the world around us by reading human thoughts.

What is a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)?

A BCI directly connects brains and computers. It detects electromagnetic signals produced by the brain and translates them into commands a computer can understand.

The concept of BCI emerged in the 1920s thanks to Hans Berger, a German scientist who discovered brain waves. BCI research boomed in the 1970s due to advancements in electronics and computer technology.

Key Achievements in BCI

  • In the 1970s, Jacques Vidal created the first BCI that could control a computer cursor with thoughts.
  • The 1990s saw Neil Harbisson become the first person with a permanently installed BCI implant in his head.
  • By the 2000s, BCIs started helping people with disabilities, like quadriplegics.
  • Elon Musk founded Neuralink in the 2010s. This company develops invasive BCIs that can be implanted in the brain.
  • The 2020s brought news of Meta’s plan to launch a non-invasive BCI for controlling AR glasses, announced by Mark Zuckerberg.

Types of BCIs

Invasive vs. Non-invasive BCIs

  • Invasive BCIs are implanted directly into the brain. They offer more accuracy and control over complex devices but come with higher risks and costs.
  • Non-invasive BCIs are placed outside the head. They are safer and easier to use but less accurate and limited to controlling simpler devices.

BCIs based on signals used

  • Electroencephalography (EEG) BCI: detects EEG signals from the brain’s surface.
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG) BCI: detects MEG signals from outside the brain.
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) BCI: detects changes in blood flow in the brain.

Latest BCI Research and Development

  • Neuralink: Developing invasive BCIs that can be implanted in the brain.
  • OpenBCI: Developing non-invasive BCIs that are accessible and affordable.
  • Facebook: Developing non-invasive BCIs that can be use to control AR glasses.

BCI Ethics

  • Privacy: BCIs can pose privacy risks, as they can be use to read people’s minds.
  • Security: Invasive BCIs can pose health risks, and non-invasive BCIs can be vulnerable to hacking.
  • Equality: BCIs should be available to everyone, not just the wealthy.

The Impact of BCIs on Society

  • Helping people with disabilities: BCIs can help people with disabilities communicate and control electronic devices.
  • Enhancing human performance: BCIs can enhance human performance in various fields, such as education, sports, and work.
  • Entertaining: BCIs can be used to entertain people with new and immersive experiences.

What Can BCIs Do?

The potential applications of BCIs are vast:

  • Empowering People with Disabilities: BCIs can grant people with disabilities the ability to communicate and control electronic devices.
  • Boosting Human Performance: From education and sports to the workplace, BCIs have the potential to enhance human performance in various fields.
  • Unleashing New Entertainment: Get ready for mind-blowing experiences! BCIs can unlock new and immersive ways to entertain ourselves.

Meta’s BCI Vision

Meta is looking to launch a non-invasive BCI specifically designed to control augmented reality (AR) glasses. Imagine controlling your AR glasses with just your thoughts, no hands required!

Challenges on the Horizon

Despite the exciting potential of BCIs, there are hurdles to overcome before widespread adoption:

  • Accuracy Matters: Current BCIs need a significant accuracy boost to be truly useful in certain applications.
  • Security Concerns: Invasive BCIs pose health risks, while non-invasive ones are susceptible to hacking. Both require robust security solutions.
  • Cost Barrier: BCIs are currently too expensive for most people. Making them more affordable is crucial for wider accessibility.