Recent advancements in the scientific research field have successfully shown
that it is possible to drive computers by making use of brain activities. This is
what Brain-Machine Interface is all about.
Today, researchers throughout the world have focused quite a lot on the Brain-
Machine Interface. Let us take a deeper look at the concept of this technology
advancement and get to know more about the subject.
What Is Brain-Machine Interface?
A Brain-Machine Interface (BMI), also known as Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)
or Direct Neutral Interface, is a direct path for communication between brain and
an external device. Often targeted at assisting or repairing human cognitive
functions, it is very crucial in developing human computer interfaces.
A Brief History of Invention
The first intra-cortical BMI was designed by Phillips Kennedy and his colleagues
by implanting the electrodes into monkeys. In 1999, a research team led by Yang
Dan from University of California, Berkeley deciphered the neuronal firings to
replicate the figures as seen by cats. Later on, several scientists were involved in
the entire process that led to the final invention of BMI. Some of the prominent
people are Miguel Nicolelis, John Donoghue (Brown University), Richard
Andersen from Caltech, and Andrew Schwartz from Pittsburg. As of today, there
are several pioneers in the research field of Brain-Computer Interface.
How Does BMI Work?
Speaking theoretically, BMI can work either through a one-way or two-way
interface; however, two way interfaces are not yet implemented successfully.
The existing one-way interface works by sending signals to the brain via a
computer. Alternatively, they are also designed to receive commands sent by the
brain, which are later converted to digital signals.
In other words, normally an electrode is implanted in the patient’s brain. The
software in the computer interprets the brain activities, which is in turn interpreted
by the computer.
Applications of BCI
BCI has been a great boon to the medical field and technology. The concept
used in BMI has several potential applications for developing human
augmentation for commercial as well as military purposes. They are also useful
in assisting patients, who are paralyzed by re-directing signals related to
movement around the affected areas of nervous system.
Apart from the medical-related applications, it can also be utilized frivolously for
developing gadgets that can be controlled by the brain thoughts. For instance,
you can think of having control over a video game through brain thoughts or
imagine swapping channels of a television via your mind thoughts.
Future of BMI
The future of Brain-Machine Interface will not only help in the field of medical
science, but also will provide everyone a potential way of performing anything on
a computer. Undoubtedly, moral and cultural considerations will have a huge
impact on its future. Optimistically, we will learn how to use out brain more
effectively in future with BMI.