BRAIN COMPUTER INTERFACE
The ability to interact directly with the human brain came about due to advances in cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging technologies. This is all made possible with the use of sensors that can monitor some of the physical processes which take place within the brain and correspond with certain forms of thought. Once such technology which have arisen due to these advances is the brain computer interface (BCI). This is also referred to as brainwave computing, thought controlled computing, mind controlled computing or thought interpreting computer software and programming, (Shah, 2014).
It functions as communication systems which do not depend on the normal outputs pathway of the brain which consists of peripheral nerves and muscles. However, the user manipulates their brain activities without using any form of motor movements to produce signals. These signals are used to control the computers or communication devices. The development of BCI was driven by a societal recognition to provide resources for needs of individuals with physical disabilities, (Tan & Nijholt, 2010). This technology bypasses any form of touch or voice where the programmes or computers are instructed by thoughts from the user.
There are two different categories of brain imaging technologies: invasive technologies where sensors are implanted directly on or in the brain and the non-invasive technologies which measure the activity of the brain using sensors. The invasive method provide a high temporal and spatial resolution, they only cover very small sections of the brain. This method requires a surgical procedure to be carried out, which could lead to medical complications as the body adapts to or does not adapt to the implants. Once the device is implanted it cannot be moved to measure different sections of the brain, (Tan & Nijholt, 2010). Controllers are used with the non-invasive method with the brainwaves controlling onscreen activity. The BCI controllers sit on the users head and read the electrical activities of the brain with an electroencephalograph (EEG). These can be bought off the shelf from companies such as Emotiv, (TheWeekStaff, 2012).
According to (Shah, 2014), by 2025 the BCI will be used by the common consumer just as laptops and tablets are being used currently. A widespread use of this technology will result in the non-existence of keyboards and mouse. This process has already begun with the introduction of touch-screen devices. The commercialization of the BCI will also have an impact on touch-screen technology as it is being proposed it will decline due to the use of BCI.
This emerging technology can be successful in several different areas. It can be used to improve the lives of disabled users and serve as a form of communication or control device for persons who are unable to communicate with the outside world. It can also be used as a motor recovery method for persons who are unable to move parts of their body, but still...