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Brain Computer Interface – Connecting Brain to Internet

Just imagine what if you could only communicate with someone or manipulate computers using your Brain!!!. Sounds Interesting, doesn’t it?

This imagination is no longer science fiction guys.

BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACE is the thing we’ve been looking for, and we’ve finally found it. So let’s dive in to see what surprise awaits us!

Brain-Computer Interface put in simple terms means the ability of the brain to communicate with external devices and other minds without the requirement for an embodiment through brain activity. This activity is generally measured by ElectroEncephaloGraphy (EEG). EEG is a method used to record electrical activity generated by the brain. By detecting the smallest changes in the energy radiated by the brain when you think in a certain way, BCI recognizes the specific energy and looks for patterns of activity.

HISTORY

Hans Berger’s innovation in human brain research and its electrical activity has a close connection with the discovery of brain-computer interfaces. We credit Berger with the development of electroencephalography, which was a breakthrough for humans and helped researchers record human brain activity–the electroencephalogram (EEG).

As one of the first common uses of brain-computer interface technology, EEG neurofeedback has been in use for several decades.

For more exciting information on the History of BCI, visit this:

TYPES OF BCI

We divide brain Computer Interfaces into three main categories:

  1. Invasive
  2. Semi-Invasive
  3. Non-Invasive

Invasive BCI has individual devices that are used to capture Brain signals (data), by inserting these devices directly into the brain by critical surgeries.

In Semi-Invasive BCI, the devices are inserted into the skull on the top of the human brain.

Non-Invasive are considered the safest and low-cost types. However, the signals these devices catch are weaker due to the obstruction from the skull

There are many ways of developing a non-Invasive BCI, such as EEG, MEG (magnetoencephalography), or MRT (magnetic resonance tomography).

Brain Computer Interface

APPLICATIONS

Now comes the most exciting part!!!.

Where and How do we use BCI’s?

The fascinating thing is that it is said that we can even transfer feelings and experiences to others.

1. Gain Skills

Using BCI, we could learn a varied number of skills, thus enabling us to perform much better.

2. BCI-enabled cars

Car accidents are of significant concern everywhere. Using BCI-enabled cars, we could reduce these accidents to a greater extent.

3. Accessing many other platforms through Brain

BCI’s help us locate many sources through our Brain. This includes the Internet, which itself is a huge source of information. Once we get this tech, probably conducting exams would be far more difficult! What do you say?

4. Prosthetics

Well, we will now stop here for a while. So what do you think will be the role of BCI in prosthetics?

As far as we see, the role of BCI would probably make it into spectacular inventions in the history of mankind. Using BCI in prosthetics would make people control the prosthetic using thoughts. This could help in getting back people’s vision. It has been tested, and results show it works.

Another example is: An EEG based BCI can measure activity from motor areas. When a patient tries to open and close his/her hand, for instance, this can be picked up by the EEG electrodes and fed to a computer. From there, the computer activates a robotic hand that physically moves the patient’s hand, AND it signals a TMS device, which then also stimulates the motor hand brain area from the outside. Thus allowing the person to use the prosthetic hand as average persons do.

Controlling devices with thoughts is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things.

5. BRAIN TO BRAIN COMMUNICATION

This imagination is now not an imagination. Research showed that by testing it on rats. Now just imagine that you want to send some letters to your friend, you can just see the document and send it to your friend through the brain, and your friend can take a printout by contacting the printer using BCI. It’s incredible, right? We are surely waiting for this technology, aren’t we?

These things are just only a few of the things that can be done using BCI’s. The gaming world will inevitably be affected due to this. Just by thinking you can play games. You could watch movies and scroll channels or surf your favorite science blogs like ours. Won’t you?

DRAWBACKS

Well, as the saying goes, “There’s no rose without a thorn,” we do have drawbacks and disadvantages of BCI. I know you’ll be thinking, why does BCI have drawbacks, It’s for good, but let’s see!!

  1. Our Brain is complex. Many reactions are happening. Every neuron sends and receives signals. There are chemical processes involved too, and EEG cannot catch these, thus making it difficult for BCI to work.
  2. EEGs measure tiny voltage signals. Other signals can thus interfere, causing trouble.
  3. Equipment used is not easily portable. It requires wires to be carried, and in case of wireless, it requires carrying computers.
  4. The inaccuracy of results is possible. Our Brain is so complex that we sometimes cannot understand what is going on. To expect BCI to solve this is unfair.
  5. LACK OF SECURITY (BRAIN HACKING)

It is foolish to think that only computers and other devices are susceptible to be hacked. BCI’s are also electronic devices, and they too can be hacked. Hacking a BCI could be more dangerous since it gives the hacker the ability to control the person.

Researchers have already warned us about this. For more info check this out:

There are many research papers out there on this topic. I am giving a link to a paper below; you can read it if you want more information about brain hacking:

  1. A publication on brain hacking

CONCLUSION

Brain-Computer Interface thus has both positive and negative sides. It is again unto us who have it use it wisely. Even though there are a wide range of applications of brain-computer interfaces and a diverse range of benefits it promises, adopters and developers of BCI should also keep in mind the risks of brain-computer interfaces and act upon them accordingly to make the technology safer to adopt.

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