Neural interfaces are already widely used in medicine. For instance, 400,000 people worldwide wear the cochlear implant allowing users to experience hearing.
Outside of medicine, external interfaces are increasingly being used to play games, control equipment and enhance memory, concentration, and physical performance.
According to CBInsights, Facebook announced that it’s acquiring New York-based neurotech startup CTRL-labs for between $500 million and $1bn.
The startup is working on tech that would let people control computers with their brains.
Take a look at 21 other neurotech startups here.
Details about CTRL-Labs
CTRL-Labs raised about $67 million for its neural interface technologies so far.
The startup had also reportedly bought patents related to Myo armband technology created by another brain-computer interface company – North.
According to Facebook, the ability to read the mind and connect to computer systems is a natural extension of today’s technology which relies on manual typing.
“We know there are more natural, intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology. And we want to build them,” told Andrew Bosworth, Facebook vice president of AR/VR.
The headset developed by the social media giant can interpret brain waves to immediately translate what an individual is thinking into computer text.
Brain wave= data
Apart from AR/VR, reading thoughts via such devices can create a whole new world of advertising in the future.
Brain waves data instead of cookies may be the new norm for future web-based advertising.
Neural signals can be used by companies. Facebook has been involved with antitrust lawsuits starting with the highly controversial dilemma involving Cambridge Analytica and backlash over its blockchain project – Libra.
Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)
Everything is heading towards the brain-computer interface. The cellphone, the internet, and social media are each considered but a stepping stone on the path to plugging our brains directly into the web.
BCIs are still at an early stage of development but eventually would enable us to operate connected devices simply by thought, while at the same time allow for data from the outside world to flow into our brains.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Kent and Wichita State University published a study detailing how they’d developed a wireless and portable brain-machine interface (BMI) used to control a wheelchair, a small robotic vehicle, and a computer device.
Back in 2017, Facebook infamously announced that it had begun work on developing “brain-typing” technology so that people could post to the social network “directly” from their grey matter.
Another key company is Neuralink, which was launched by Elon Musk in 2016 and plans the first human test of its current BCI technology in 2020.
“And at the same time, the possibility of being “connected to AI” would mean that our actions will flow less from our own judgments and thoughts on what’s in our best interests, and more from what data and algorithms have decided is best for us, says Forbes.
A number of forward-thinking companies are already looking at BCIs.
The gaming world is making significant advancements. For example, Valve is exploring the use of brain-computer interfaces to create adaptive gameplay able to respond to the emotions or ability of the player.
Automotive companies have already used EEG to analyze signals of drowsy driving.
BCI can facilitate telepresence allowing humans to work in conditions that would otherwise put their health and safety in danger.
There is a wide range of applications
The BCI system, being directly linked to the human brain, can have a negative impact on its users in case it is not utilized properly. Some of the potential risks associated with BCI are as follows:
Inaccuracy of Results
We cannot expect man-made BCI to correctly interpret all our complex brain signals
Bulky Nature of the System
Since the BCI system involves the connection of several wires due to the interfacing between the brain and the computer, it can often result in extremely uncomfortable user experiences.
Lack of Security
Anyone may decode what is going on in your mind and thus invade your privacy, using a computer.
Scientists have revealed that within five years attackers can potentially be able to rewrite memories in people’s mind.