This is John Simeral, the first person ever to be connected to a computer wirelessly.
The team of American scientists BrainGate, specialised in the development of technologies for people with cerebral palsy, has carried out the first human test of a wireless brain-computer interface (BCI), which is capable of capturing and decoding signals in the human brain and transmitting them to external devices without a wired connection. BCIs traditionally used in clinical trials require cables to connect the brain sensor array to computers. However, these cables limit where and when patients can use the interface while requiring expert supervision.
The system works by connecting the transmitter devices on the users' heads to "an electrode relay within the brain's motor cortex using the same port used by wired systems", and from there, users go on to point, click, and type on a tablet computer. It was tested by two men aged 35 and 63, both with spinal cord injuries. During the tests, both participants achieved typing speeds and point-and-click accuracy similar to wired systems and were able to continuously use the system for up to 24 hours in their own homes.
This latest development is a significant step forward in neural interfacing, whereby human brains are directly connected to computers. Lately, prominent names in the tech industry such as Facebook and Elon Musk have expressed interest in pursuing such technology.
Experts emphasise that the move to this wireless device represents a significant advance towards the main goal in developing ICBs: a fully implantable intracortical system that helps restore communication, mobility, and independence of people with neurological diseases injuries or without limbs.
Healthusiasm expectations & aspirations:
This is an overwhelming innovation that, from now on, will often be used by keynote speakers to show what technology can do. And it is also awe-inspiring, of course. Add to that some quotes from Elon Musk, who already claims that this is necessary for humans to survive in a world that Artificial Intelligence and robots will drive, ... And you have a lot of entertainment with science fiction content.
But what does this mean already today? Since this was initially made for people with partial paralysis or robotic prostheses, this will undoubtedly change these people's expectations and life aspirations today. They may desire to be able to do more things, and maybe even to fill out their lives in a different way. This is the first ripple effect in the water. But others will also naively start dreaming about new applications: How can I restore my loss of strength in my legs. Would I be able to recover from my stroke? Could this control my Parkinson's syndrome? Will I control my Sonos by thinking of a different song?
These and more such innovations will give people the impression that they will have (even more) an impact on their body (a bit like the effect of medical breakthroughs such as transplants in the 60s). Deep down, this is what every human being truly desires: to impact our health and happiness. Even though such technology is not yet widespread, it will undoubtedly strengthen this aspiration and expectation in the years to come. This is something that companies and brands need to realise today.