Brain-computer interfaces are the future of communication!
Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) will change the way we communicate with our electronic devices and with each other.
The main focus of BCI research and development has been on neuro-prosthetic applications that can help restore impaired vision, hearing, and mobility. Many medical applications are invasive and require surgery. For example, retinal implants, which are electronic devices transferring visual information to the brain by stimulating retinal neurons and thereby improving sight for some kinds of visual impairments. Another example is cochlear implants, which are electronic devices transferring audio information by stimulating the auditory nerve making deaf people perceive sound.
However, the term BCI is mostly used for communication in the other direction, namely to control external devices such as prosthetic limbs through activity in the brain. Some equipment for controlling prosthetic limbs is non-invasive and requires no surgery. Measuring the electrical activity from outside the body is more difficult because the signals are weaker and there is more noise. But by using machine learning, we have become better and better at understanding and interpreting these signals.
The external devices your brain learns to control do not have to involve the movement of physical objects in the world. The ability to communicate textual information directly from your brain to some external device is also very interesting. Recent research shows that an invasive BCI and machine learning can detect and interpret mental handwriting.
BCIs can also be used to enhance non-disabled people. When you want to send a text message to someone today, you need to actively pick up your smartphone, open a messaging app, select a recipient, type a message on a very tiny keyboard, and press a send button. Wouldn't be more convenient to have a device that perceives your intention to send the text message by detecting and interpreting certain brain signals and automatically send the message for you? We believe that this is the way to communicate in the not-so-far future.
Our product, the xBand, communicates with your brain by stimulating touch nerve cells on your wrist and uses this as a new channel to send textual information to your brain. We closely follow the research progress in neuroscience and will continue to develop products to simplify our communication with our computer devices and with each other.