Brain Computer Interface (BCI) and Internet of Senses (IoS)

While no one is openly talking about Brain Computer Interface (BCI) Communications during 6G era, it is nevertheless an interesting topic to think about and discuss. It may be early for 2030 but maybe something that might be available for the mid to later part of 6G.

Last year, Elon Musk’s Neuralink revealed what’s been going on behind the scenes in terms of their technological progress with BCI. The livestream is available on YouTube here. Regarding this event, Teslarati reported:

In a live streamed event on Friday afternoon, the brain-machine interface company gave a demonstration, took questions, and left audiences with even more to mull over than ever.

“The primary purpose of this demo is recruiting,” Musk stated at the very beginning of the presentation. He emphasized that everyone at some point in their life will face a brain or spine problem – all inherently electrical – meaning it takes electrical solutions to solve electrical problems. Neuralink’s goals are to solve these problems for anyone who wants them solved, and that application will be simple and reversible with no negative effects.

Two pigs were used for the ‘real-time’ demonstration promised in the days leading up to the event. The first, named Gertrude, had a Neuralink implant installed for two months and was shown to be healthy and happy. A second pig, named Dorothy, had the implant previously installed and removed with no side effects afterward.

After a bit of a delay from the amusingly sassy Neuralink-implanted pigs, the live stream and in-house audience witnessed Gertrude’s device in action. Notably, the neural implants could predict all the limb movements of the pigs based on the neural activity being read. Each reading was shown on a screen and musical notes attached as the data was processed.

Overall, here are some of the main takeaways from the presentation.

  • The Neuralink implant device has been dramatically simplified since Summer 2019. Its design will be very low profile and nearly invisible on the outside, leaving only a small scar that could be covered by hair. “It’s like a FitBit in your skull with tiny wires,” Musk half-joked. “I could have it right now and you wouldn’t even know. Maybe I do!”
  • The implant device is inductively charged, much like wireless smartphones are charged. It will also have functions that are akin to those available on smartwatches today.
  • A “smart” robot installs the device, which requires engineering talent to accomplish, hence the recruiting focus of the Neuralink event. The “V2” robot featured in this year’s presentation looks like a step up from last year’s machine.
  • The electrodes are installed without general anesthesia, no bleeding, and no noticeable damage. The currently developed robot has done all the current implant installations to date.
  • The implant can be installed and removed without any side effects.
  • You can have multiple Neuralink devices implanted and they will work seamlessly.
  • The implant device would have an application linked to your phones.
  • Neuralink received a ‘breakthrough device’ designation from the FDA in July, and the company is working with the agency to make the technology as safe as possible.
  • The device will eventually be able to be sewn deeper within the brain, thereby having access to a greater range of functions beyond the upper cortex. Examples are motor function, depression, and addiction.
  • Getting a Neuralink should take less than an hour, without the need for general anesthesia. Users could have the surgery done in the morning and go home later during the day.

Read the complete details here.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the technology and of course there are many issues to consider about it. Al Jazeera hosted a discussion on this topic with presenter Dareen Aboughaida and guests, Nick Ramsey – Professor in cognitive neuroscience at University of Utrecht and Ruta Liepiņa – assistant professor in digital legal studies at Maastricht University. A video of that discussion is embedded below:

Elon Musk and Neuralink are not the only people talking about BCI. Ericsson has been talking about this for quite a while too. 

Last year in an article (curiously released on 1st April 2020 🤷‍♂️), they talked about how we will move from telephone to telepathy in the future. The Internet of Senses concept relies of brain-computer interface. I strongly recommend to watch the video in the Tweet below.

You can read more about Ericsson's Internet of Senses vision here. A report looking at the vision of the internet of senses in the 2030 future workplace is available here.

In this article, 6GWorld looks at how Brain-Computer Interfaces are already making a positive impact for kids with special needs. It makes an interesting reading.

I am interested in hearing if you have any thoughts on this topic.

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