Brain-Computer Interface

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Brain-Computer Interfaces, or BCI's describe systems of interaction between computers and neurological systems. The aim of a BCI varies by application. Traditionally, BCI's are used to augment or repair cognitive or motor functions in humans that have lost the ability to control parts of their bodies. In this case, BCIs act as restorative technologies. As BCIs become cheaper, more accurate and easier to use outside of medical facilities, their use will increasingly be used as part of augmentative technologies and entertainment in the form of video games, conferencing and communication, remote control and wireless data entry.

Types of BCIs

There are two main types of BCIs. The first is non-invasive, which allow one to interface with technology without surgery. Two of the most interesting types of non-invasive BCIs are subvocal recognition, or SVR, and electroencephalograms, or EEG.

Subvocal recognition is a method that allows one to communicate without speaking. In 2008 the Ambient Corporation demoed a device that attached to one's neck and detected subvocal signals, turning them into sound. [1]

An EEG device is a non-invasive BCI that works by detecting neuro-electrical transmission in the brain. This neuro-electric brain activity can be converted into various outputs such as the movement of virtual objects, data entry, and the use of a computer without the use of a cursor or keyboard.

The second kind of BCIs are invasive, which means that they require a surgical procedure in order to be installed. Currently Invasive BCIs are almost exclusively used in medicine as restorative healthcare. They are unstable and too expensive to be used in normal everyday life as commercial products. In order to become stable, everday products they will have to go through safety testing, become small and cheap enough to be mass-produced, and run software that helps to solve everyday human problems. Before this happens they may service in an upper level human augmentation market of video-games and expensive communication units.


  1. On February 26, 2008 the Ambient Corporation demonstrated what it called the world's first voiceless phone call.