TechDogs-"All You Want To Know About Brain-Computing Interfaces"

Computing

All You Want To Know About Brain-Computing Interfaces

By TechDogs

TechDogs
Overall Rating

Overview

Brain–Computer Interfaces, also known as BCIs or Brain–Machine Interfaces (or sometimes known as smartbrains!) offer a direct communication pathway between the brain's electrical activity using an external hardware or device. Essentially, they are computers or robotic limbs that are often directed at researching, mapping, assisting, augmenting or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions by tapping into the brain.

Research on BCIs began way back in the 1960s, when the first mention of a Brain-Computer Interface was mentioned. Early attempts were made to control simple electronic devices, such as bulbs, using electrodes from brains. Today, companies like Elon Musk’s Neuralink develop implantable Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) devices – needless to say, the tech is fascinating.

Read on to understand all about Brain-Computing Interfaces!
TechDogs-"All You Want To Know About Brain-Computing Interfaces" Did You Just Say Wecan Worr Together? All You Want To Know About Brain-Computing Interfaces

Set in a dystopian 2040s era, the movie ‘Ready Player One’ gripped us from the start. The world is battling an energy crisis and the depletion of fossil fuels has caused pollution, global warming and much more. To combat this, people turn to OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), a virtual reality simulator that is accessible to players using VR visors and haptic tech. This virtual realm has schools, shopping centers and arcades - essentially a thriving virtual community with real ‘citizens’.

This got us thinking of the Black Mirror episode where consciousness was extracted and moved into a digital format, so people could live in a digital world as real as, well, reality. The thought always got us thinking, debating and questioning the extent of technology and how far away we are from this future, don't you? 

The answer is - it’s not that far away! We mean, sophisticated AI algorithms are here already and are offering partial simulations of our brain functions. With AI’s massive scope to absorb, analyze and understand data, it’s no surprise that Brain-Computer Interfaces are the next big thing. Wait, what is that and how does it even work?

Let’s tech it out in this blog about Brain-computing Interfaces!
 

What Are Brain-Computing Interfaces?


Brain-computing Interfaces, or BCI for short, enables a direct communication pathway between the brain and an object to be controlled. For example, BCI can deliver a signal directly from the brain to a mechanism directing the cursor of a computer, rather than taking the normal route through the body's neuromuscular system from the brain to a finger on a mouse. Thinking of telepathic powers? Well, it’s not that different!
 
Brain-computing Interfaces can hence enable a person suffering from paralysis to write a book or control a motorized wheelchair or prosthetic limb through thought alone. Think of having microchips in your brain that allow telekinesis!

Brain-Computer Interfaces acquire brain signals, analyze them and translate them into commands that are relayed to output devices that carry out desired actions. It allows people to turn their thoughts into action by integrating brain chips that go over the scalp in a wearable device. These are surgically placed under the scalp or even implanted within brain tissue. The idea is that the closer the chip is to the brain’s neural network, the clearer, or ‘high definition,’ a signal can be interpreted.
Wait, we will break it down into easier steps!
 

How Does Brain-computing Interfaces Work?


Brain-computing Interfaces have four basic components: signal acquisition, signal preprocessing, feature extraction and classification.

Measuring brain waves is the most important component of any BCI (signal acquisition). These can be invasive or non-invasive methods, depending on how the electrodes are transplanted. Signal acquisition is followed by signal processing, that is responsible for recording the brain waves and preprocessing them to enhance the signal and induce noise reduction. It’s no less than magic…more than simple magic we’d say!

Next, feature extraction is a critical step in the machine learning pipeline that aims to simplify and optimize data. This component then generates discriminative characteristics for improved signals and decreases the size of data applied to the next step - classification. Classifiers translate the produced features into voice commands, which involves identifying and extracting the most relevant information from the data to produce a set of features that represent the underlying structure of the data.
This preprocessed data is then sent to the interface wirelessly for neural coding, allowing the device to understand the user’s intent. Sounds like magic, right? Well, here’s more about the magic of BCIs.
 

What’s Happening In BCIs Today?


Brain-computing Interfaces have come a long way and there’s a ton of interesting work going on. NextMind, recently acquired by Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, has developed a device that translates signals from the visual cortex into digital commands. Bitbrain has developed wearable brain-sensing devices that monitor EEG signals with the help of AI. Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, has developed implantable BMI devices, such as its N1 chip, which can interface directly with more than 1,000 different brain cells!

In fact, scientists are developing a coin-sized surgical implant, primarily focused on treating paralyses. Wow, we are on to something big here with Brain-computing interfaces!
 
Apart from this, large areas of focus are towards diffusion-based neural networks - think of the image generation models such as DALL-E and Midjourney! This BCI application has been used to reproduce images that people have seen based on their EEG activity and the music they listened to. The University of Washington has demonstrated a method for allowing one person to control the hand movements of another using their brain. Woah!

Now do you see – BCI is nothing less than magic and is taking us closer to the fictional realm of OASIS, quicker than you think!
 

Interfacing Our Final Thoughts


Today, a series of amazing breakthroughs are allowing paralyzed people to speak and control devices. With each passing month, we get closer to Brain-computing Interfaces that might unlock some of the deepest mysteries of our grey matter, while enhancing what we can do wirelessly. The field of BCI is dynamic and ongoing research is continuously improving the technology in terms of accuracy, speed and accessibility.

Having said that, this technology has the scope to grow leaps and bounds, making precision-control over machines much more realistic than ever before. So, next time someone says “put on your thinking caps” they may mean it literally – after all, BCIs are here!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Brain-computing Interfaces (BCIs)?


Brain-Computing Interfaces, or BCIs, establish a direct communication pathway between the brain and a device for control. They enable users to send signals from their brains to control external objects or devices without the need for physical movement. BCIs can interpret brain signals and translate them into commands, allowing individuals to interact with technology using their thoughts. These interfaces hold immense potential for assisting individuals with disabilities and enhancing human-computer interactions.
 

How Do Brain-computing Interfaces Work?


Brain-Computing Interfaces operate through a series of steps:
 
  • Signal Acquisition: Brain waves are measured using invasive or non-invasive methods, capturing neural activity.

  • Signal Preprocessing: Recorded brain waves are processed to enhance signals and reduce noise.

  • Feature Extraction: Discriminative features are extracted from the processed data to optimize signals.

  • Classification: Classifiers translate these features into actionable commands, enabling users to control devices. The processed data is wirelessly transmitted to the interface for decoding, allowing the device to understand the user's intent and execute commands accordingly.

 

What Advancements Are Happening In The Field Of Brain-computing Interfaces Today?


The field of Brain-Computing Interfaces is witnessing rapid advancements:
 
  • Companies like NextMind and Bitbrain are developing wearable devices that monitor brain signals, enabling more seamless interactions with technology.

  • Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, is pioneering implantable BMI devices that directly interface with brain cells, offering unprecedented control and functionality.

  • Researchers are exploring diffusion-based neural networks and innovative applications like image generation models to expand the capabilities of BCIs. These developments signify the growing potential of BCIs to revolutionize human-computer interactions and empower individuals with new abilities.

Enjoyed what you read? Great news – there’s a lot more to explore!

Dive into our content repository of the latest tech news, a diverse range of articles spanning introductory guides, product reviews, trends and more, along with engaging interviews, up-to-date AI blogs and hilarious tech memes!

Also explore our collection of branded insights via informative white papers, enlightening case studies, in-depth reports, educational videos and exciting events and webinars from leading global brands.

Head to the TechDogs homepage to Know Your World of technology today!

Disclaimer - Reference to any specific product, software or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by TechDogs nor should any data or content published be relied upon. The views expressed by TechDogs’ members and guests are their own and their appearance on our site does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by TechDogs’ Authors are those of the Authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of TechDogs or any of its officials. All information / content found on TechDogs’ site may not necessarily be reviewed by individuals with the expertise to validate its completeness, accuracy and reliability.

Tags:

Cloud ComputingBrain Computer Interface (BCI) Brain-machine Interface BCI Technology Computer Interface BCI Application

Join The Discussion

  • Dark
  • Light