Brain computer interface technology rain-to transform interaction between human and machines and has emerged as a new frontier in digital world
What is BCI?
Brain computer interface (BCI) is the result of next-generation neuro-technology researches that has transformed communication interfaces between an external device and human brains. BCI, also referred to as direct neural interface, synthetic telepathy interface, brain machine interface or mind machine interface, is a system or technology that enables us to control a computer or other electronic device using only their brainwaves, without any external movement. Brain activity in human beings can be detected on the scalp, cortical surface or within the brain by emitting signals. These signals are translated by (BCI) using electrodes that amplifies the voltages between brain neurons. This would enable a programmed computer or device to interpret them without the involvement of peripheral nerves.
Historical Perspectives & Potential
The first serious attempts to use neuronal activity to communicate information to a machine or computer were undertaken as early as 1970s when groups of scientists tried to insight into real-life application of the concept, where first the experiment was conducted on a monkey brain and later onto human brain. Initial experiments were interesting, and though very limited in its application but evoked optimism. Over time, technological advancements in analyzing brain electrical waves have opened new vistas in BCI market.
Brain computer interface is a new technology in the making and equipped with its transformative functions has made “mind-over-matter” a reality. Continual developments in the technology have made waves across a range of industry horizontals: healthcare, gaming, IT and energy. BCI technology though in embryonic stage is being used to build advanced prosthetic called neuroprosthetics and build robotic limbs. Microprocessors that would help in conducting specific neural functions are implanted in the brain which maps patient’s brain to prosthetics. This would help the individuals with severe brain injuries and severe neuromuscular disorders such as ALS, brainstem stroke, and cerebral palsy, among many others.
Types of BCI, Recent Developments & market growth prospects
BCI can be invasive, non-invasive or partially invasive: invasive technology uses array of electrodes implanted on anyone’s brain or near the surface of the brain and non-invasive systems use electrodes placed on the human scalp. Non-invasive or partially invasive are implanted or programmed to cause minimal discomfort to the persons. Technological advancements in computational domain, developments in human sensing, gaming & entertainment, and advances in communication and control systems across regions are factors fostering the growth the market. Recent developments in BCI technology has led to computerized prosthetic limbs gaining prominence; these limbs can be controlled through valuable inputs from an amputee's muscles or his nerve cells. Real applications of humanoid robots for several real-world applications have resulted in global research agencies take an active part in development and implementation of BCI.
Recently at the beginning of this year DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), an agency of U.S. Department of Defenses has earmarked a whopping sum of $60M to be spent in four year duration in making an implantable, wideband BCI that will help in data transmission. The breakthrough is hailed by industry experts and various stakeholders as uniquely multi-disciplinary effort in BCI market. The project reckoned as Neural Engineering System Design, or NESD will provide vast signal resolution and high data-transfer bandwidth between the human brain and the entire digital world. Witnessing immense growth opportunities in BCI technology, a report by the Allied Market Research titled “World Brain Computer Interface Market - Opportunities and Forecasts, 2013 – 2020” forecast the global market to reach$1.46 billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 11.5% during 2014-2020. Some of the prominent companies profiled in this report are Inc., Nihon Kohden Corporation, Advanced Brain Monitoring, Mind Solutions Inc and Guger Technologies OEG.