Ian Randall | The Daily Mail | Source URL
A mind-reading chip that let you control a computer by just thinking has been unveiled at a conference in China.
Dubbed Brain Talker, works by picking out small electrical pulses in the brain and quickly decoding them into signals that a computer can interpret.
The chip could be used to control computers, smartphones and other devices, its creators say.
It also has potential medical, education, security and entertainment applications, they add.
However, the information released so far on the chip and exactly how it operates is limited.
The Brain Talker chip has been jointly developed by Tianjin University and the China Electronics Corporation.
These kinds of brain–computer interfaces are design to let a person control a computer, smartphone or other electronic device using their brainwaves alone — without needing any form of verbal instruction, movement, or button pressing.
Brain interfaces would not only allow for the faster operation of various technologies, but also be used to assist people with disabilities, for example by letting an individual drive an electric wheelchair just by thinking.
‘Brain-computer Interfaces hold a promising future,’ said Dong Ming, dean of Tianjin University’s Academy of Medical Engineering and Translational Medicine.
‘The Brain Talker chip advances brain-computer interface technology, allowing it to become more portable, wearable and accessible to the general public,’ he added.
The brain decoding chip works by picking out minor neural electrical signals within the cerebral cortex and rapidly translate them into a form that the computer an understand.
‘This brain-computer codec chip has the ability to discriminate minor neural electrical signals and decode their information efficiently, which can greatly enhance the speed and accuracy of brain-computer interfaces,’ said Dr Ming.
‘The signals transmitted and processed by the brain are submerged in the background noise,’ he explained.
Existing applications of brain–computer interface technology have included controlling a robotic arm to help people with paralysis write and feed themselves.
On a more frivolous front, Netflix revealed in 2017 that it had developed a mind-reading headband that selected shows to watch based on the wearer’s thoughts.
Recent advances in both integrated circuits and computational neuroscience have allowed researchers to develop the Brain Talker chip so it is both smaller and operates faster, more precisely and with greater efficiency than existing brain–computer interfaces.
Although it is not clear exactly how the device will be worn, most brain–computer interface devices are worn on the outside of the body, rather than being embedded directly into the user’s brain.
Cheng Longlong, a data scientist from the China Electronics Corporation, said that the research team will ‘endeavour to enhance the performance of the Brain Talker.’
‘One day brain-computer codec chips will contribute to medical treatment, education, self-discipline, security as well as games and entertainment,’ he added.
The Brain Talker chip was unveiled during the third World Intelligence Congress, which was held in northern China’s Tianjin Municipality on May 1, 2019.
HUMAN BRAIN WILL CONNECT TO COMPUTERS ‘WITHIN DECADES’
In a new paper published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience, researchers embarked on an international collaboration that predicts groundbreaking developments in the world of ‘Human Brain/Cloud Interface’s’ within the next several decades.
Using a combination of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other more traditional computing, researchers say humans will be able to seamlessly connect their brains to a cloud of computer(s) to glean information from the internet in real-time.
According to Robert Freitas Jr., senior author of the research, a fleet of nanobots embedded in our brains would act as liaisons to humans’ minds and supercomputers, to enable ‘matrix style’ downloading of information.
‘These devices would navigate the human vasculature, cross the blood-brain barrier, and precisely autoposition themselves among, or even within brain cells,’ explains Freitas.
‘They would then wirelessly transmit encoded information to and from a cloud-based supercomputer network for real-time brain-state monitoring and data extraction.’
The interfaces wouldn’t just stop at linking humans and computers, say researchers. A network of brains could also help form what they call a ‘global superbrain’ that would allow for collective thought.