What is a Brain Computer Interface (BCI)? How It Will Be New Help Disabled?

Brain Computer Interface (BCI)
Source - Wikimedia Commons

The world has witnessed the successful implantation of the Brain computer interface (BCI) in the human brain by Neuralink. Recently revealed by the founder of Neuralink Elon Musk on x.com. He posted from his official account about the confirmation of the first successful installation of the BCI device inside the human brain. The subject is in healing and the device is showing initial activities.

Scientists from Neuralink Corp. succeeded in doing so on 29/01/24 after several trials on animal subjects like monkeys and Pigs.

BCI if worked will provide a direct connection of the brain with external devices such as computers. The Device will work as a bridge between the brain and gadgets. He will not need the use his hand to operate but just a thought.

What is Brain Computer Interface (BCI)?

Brain Computer Interface (BCI) sometimes called Brain Computer Maschin (BCM) is a chip that contains several hundred electrodes, and complex circuits and is fitted with software that will help connect with the outside device.

The chip aka BCI device is made up of biocompatible material. So that it won’t hurt the brain tissue in the long run. As it has to stay there for an indefinite period.

 It will help the sick and paralyzed people to operate all the gadgets such as mobile phones and computers from a distance. 

 If this works properly it will be a miracle for disabled and paralyzed people.

Types of Brain Computer Interface (BCI)

There are primarily two types of BCI devices,

1.Invasive BCI.

This type of device is surgically implanted inside the human brain either by a Robot or by a surgeon.

2.Non Invasive BCI.

In this type, the Device is installed externally to the scalp and no surgical procedure will be required. 

It can also have subtypes based on the type of electrodes, material used, type of device, and software used.

What Parts are there in BCI?

The BCI device from all other companies will have more or less the same components and parts. While Brain Computer Interface (BCI) device from Neuralink Corp have 

1. Threads or N1 Implant or Bunch of wire – Threads contain 64 nanowires. One end is connected to the chip while the other end is to 1024 electrodes. Electrodes are directly inserted into neurons. Electrodes will read the brain activity. Thread is ultra-thin and highly flexible.

2. The Chip – The device is fitted with an electronic chip. Chip receives the neuronal signals, processes them, and transmits them to software present in end gadgets such as computers. The application later decodes it and converts it into commands.  

3. The Battery – The device is fitted with a small battery to provide power which is seated above the chip.  The battery can be charged wirelessly from an outside charger.

4. Protective Covering – The assembly is enclosed by a protective covering. The covering is biocompatible i.e. its existence will not irritate or affect the neighboring tissue. Also, this material is tough enough to withstand all the chemicals present inside the body. Which helps it to stay in good condition and not dissolve or erode due to chemicals in the surroundings.

How will it function?

A person has to think about that specific command in his mind. That specific neuronal signal will be picked up by a Specially designed electrode. Neuronal signals will get transferred to electronic chips through the thread. The chip will convert the signal and transmit it wirelessly to software. The software application will read the signal, decode it, and turn it into the command for respective gadgets to operate as imagined such as mobile phones or computers.

Who will benefit from this device?

people who are paralyzed, disabled, or those who lack limbs due to disease or accident or have neurological issues and can’t use limbs. Because they can’t function like normal humans and need special assistance.

Elon Musk believes that with BCI devices these people will be able to type faster than trained typists. They will be able to operate the electronic gadgets remotely and become productive.

Dr. J. Vidal and associates first introduced the term and concept of Brain Computer Interface (BCI) in the 70s decade. The motto behind this was to develop the alternate brain signals output pathway for disabled and paralyzed people over the traditional output pathway of the peripheral nervous system. This research opened the door to all new science branches.

Neuralink Corp is not the only company involved in the research and development of Brain Computer Interface (BCI). There are several other companies such as  BlackRock Neurotec, Neurable, Emotive Systes Inc., Syncrone, Kernel, BitBrain Technology, Precision, NextMind Technology, Paradromics Inc. Forest Neurotec, Inbrain and there are more on the list.

All these companies are working on the same concept. The only difference is some companies are working on implantable electrodes and some are EEG based and electrodes external to the skull.