Considered as Major Technological Breakthrough, Brain Computer Interface Technology Expected to Facilitate Rehabilitating Patients with Severe Disabilities

As the power technology grows alongside the abilities of human brain, humans are inching closer to being able to control one’s environment through thoughts. Transmitting signals to someone’s brain directly enabling them to see, hear, or feel specific sensory inputs had been in the realm of science fiction until recently. However, the latest advances in technology have made this possible in real. Brain computer interface (BCI) is thus developed to help severely disabled people effectively communicate information, operate their assistive devices with external help, and manipulate objects. Considering the potential of manipulating systems or machinery with thought, BCI is touted as one of the most influential technological breakthroughs in the recent decade.

Based on in-depth research, Transparency Market Research (TMR) forecasts the global brain computer interface market to reach a valuation of US$1.23 bn by the end of 2024. 

Q: What are the factors driving the brain computer interface market across developed and developing economies? 

A: A BCI device allows communication and collaboration between the brain and an external device by interpreting the electrical signals sent from the brain. Demand for BCI devices is expected to surge in developed and developing economies alike. The increasing application across the entertainment industry and the accelerating spending by the healthcare industry are the key factors supporting the market’s growth worldwide. 

With an aim of expanding their footprint, the leading companies operating in the market are focusing on product development and innovation. This is also intended to cater to the dynamic requirements of end users. Furthermore, government-academia-industry collaboration exhibits the potential of spurring R&D activities across Europe and North America. Besides this, the market is also gaining impetus from the recent technological advancements in the field of BCI devices, which have considerably changed the way in which physicians administer treatment to their patients. 

Experts observe, due to the trendy design and advanced features of wearable and noninvasive BCI devices, most consumers who invest in the technology are either early adopters or innovators. This explains their widespread adoption across developed economies. Furthermore, the technology has received government support in developed nations as a part of brain and neurological studies, for betterment of humanity. 

Q: What are the recent developments promising exponential growth of the global brain computer interface market?

In January 2015 more than a decade after engineering work, researchers at the Brown University in collaboration with a Utah-based company called Blackrock Microsystems, were able to commercialize a wireless BCI device that when attached to a human’s skull can transmit information using radio thought commands, which are obtained from a brain implant. The technology holds promise of providing paralyzed patients’ the ability to stream their thought commands at the speed offered by their domestic internet connection. 

Besides this, in a novel experiment, elaborated upon in the journal IEEE, researchers were able to successfully use the BCI technology to enable thought controlled typing at a speed of 12 words in a minute. The experiment was conducted on two rhesus macaques, that enabled the animals transcribing pages for the New York Times and Hamlet, a report on which was later published in the International Business Times on September, 2016. 

Despite being at a preliminary stage, these studies demonstrated the feasibility of the brain computer interface technology as a communication interface. With rigorous research underway TMR projects the global BCI market to expand at an impressive CAGR of 14.9% between 2016 and 2024. 

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