Brain-computer interface technology is an emerging technology that integrates human thinking and machines. As the top technology in the field of artificial intelligence, it is undoubtedly another commanding height of the current global technology competition.
Brain-computer interface welcomes market prospects
Brain-computer interface refers to the establishment of interfaces and bridges between the human brain and machines (including intelligent hardware) and the Internet, so that the electrical signals of the brain can directly interact with the electrical signals of the computer, so that the brain can directly connect and communicate with the virtual world.
This technology was first proposed by Professor Vidal from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1973, but it failed to attract more attention due to the relatively low level of computer development at that time. Entering the 21st century, with the rapid development of the computer industry and the pursuit of higher efficiency in human-computer interaction, the research on brain-computer interface has been put on the agenda again.
The greatest value of this technology is that: through the integration of human brain and machine, it can break the current way of interaction between human and machine, human and environment, so that human can break through the limitations of the body and tools, especially to help those with cognitive and action barriers Persons with disabilities are able to regain mobility and reintegrate into society.
It has attracted the attention and investment of many scientific researchers, technology companies, venture capitalists, and defense agencies, and its market expectations are gradually heating up. China has also listed “brain science and brain-like research” as a major national scientific and technological innovation and engineering project in the “13th Five-Year Plan” outline, and the Chinese team BrainCo is also ready to go.
The strongest lineup of the Chinese team
Founded in 2015, BrainCo is the first Chinese team incubated by the Harvard Innovation Lab. The founder, Bicheng Han, is a Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Center for Brain Science. He is the first Chinese scientist to be interviewed by Forbes on brain-computer interface technology.
As one of the earliest Chinese promoters of brain-computer interface technology, Bicheng Han was once named “one of the five innovators in the field of brain-computer interface” by the American media together with Elon Musk.
The team was incubated by Harvard University and received investment from China Electronics, China Merchants Capital, Everbright Holdings, Tencent Co-founder, Walden International, CDH Investments and other institutions. It is the largest financing in the field of non-invasive brain-computer interface in the past three years.
Types of brain-computer interfaces
Brain-computer interface technology involves many disciplines such as neuroscience, signal detection, signal processing, pattern recognition, etc. The access method of brain-computer can be divided into “invasive brain-computer interface”, “semi-invasive brain-computer interface” and “non-invasive brain-computer interface”. three types of brain-computer interface.
Among them, the non-invasive brain-computer interface technology collects signals through scalp brain wave scanning, infrared signals and nuclear magnetic resonance, without requiring surgical operations, and has obvious advantages in future consumer-level scenarios.
The entry point of choice for BrainCo’s BrainOS system is the non-invasive brain-computer interface. By wearing the device, the system can collect and process the human body’s electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyography (EMG), enhance the brain’s operation and feedback capabilities, and finally build a brain-reading operating system, Brain OS (Brain Operation System). This method does not need to cause wounds to the body of the implanter, is ethically more acceptable to the general public, and has lower maintenance costs.
And Musk’s Neuralink company uses invasive technology. This technology requires circuits and chips to be implanted into the human brain through craniotomy and other methods. The advantage of this technique is that it can obtain information directly from the cerebral cortex, avoiding the attenuation of neural signals due to cranial blockage.
The downside is that the craniotomy is still risky, and the implanted electrodes can be surrounded by scar tissue after a year, affecting the transmission of nerve signals. Therefore, the invasive brain-computer interface is still aimed at people with special needs such as paraplegic patients, and it is difficult to popularize.
New breakthroughs bring new applications
At present, BrainCo has launched products for commercial use based on non-invasive brain-computer interface technology: one is the Focus concentration training device for smart education, and the other is the BrainRobotics intelligent bionic hand for people with upper limb disabilities.
The first of these two products can use brainwave neurofeedback training to improve cognitive performance, track attention data, and quantify and improve it. This product has been tried out in many well-known high school and university labs in North America (such as the MIT Media Lab) and received very positive feedback.
The “Brain-Computer Interface+” autism brain training system independently developed by BrainCo is also a precise digital drug product specially designed for the core social disorder of autism. It can directly train the brain nerves and significantly improve the effect of behavioral intervention.
The system has now successfully landed in Hangzhou. Han Bicheng also said that BrainOS is a brain intelligent operating system, which is a system developed with BMIoT as the core concept. According to BrainCo’s vision, by combining the BrainOS system with various smart terminals, brain-computer interface technology will effectively help people improve work efficiency and simplify various operations.
This system can be divided into two parts, one is to use brain-computer interface technology to allow users to control external devices such as smart homes, cars, and mobile phones through the system; the other is to track and analyze the user’s status and provide interventions and suggestions.
BrainCo also proposed to evolve from the Internet of Things (IoT), which is currently well-known to the public, to the AI Internet of Things (AIoT), which interacts with smart devices through artificial intelligence (AI) technology, and finally to the human brain-machine interface (BMI). ) technology to realize the path of human-machine Internet of things (BMIoT). The brain interaction and brain computing system developed with BMIoT (Man-Machine Internet of Things) as the core concept is the real human brain interaction operating system.
According to forecasts, the global market size of brain-computer interface technology is expected to reach US$1.46 billion in 2020. Although the brain-computer interface has a huge market space, the brain-computer interface technology will eventually shift from the laboratory to the consumer end, how to implement the product, whether it can be commercialized, etc., is a difficult problem for enterprises in the field of brain-computer interface.