Forget about voice control or facial recognition, one of the hottest gadgets at this year’s CES was a wearable brain-to-computer interface, which enables people to switch on the television using the power of their brains.
The gadget, produced by a French startup founded by neuroscientists, fits around the skull very much like a headlamp. The technology used is based on the same principle as electroencephalograms. The brain emits electrical signals and these can be read and then transformed into digital commands for compatible appliances.
Standards for these emerging technologies are essential as they help to save time and money for entrepreneurs who wish to bring new products to market. IEC Technical Committee (TC) 47 publishes key standards for the design, use and reuse of sensors, enabling users to measure their performance, for instance. IEC TC 124 develops standards for wearable devices. IEC TC 100 develops standards for audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment and set up a technical area (TA) to develop standards relating to active assisted living wearable electronic devices and technologies, as well as accessibility and user interfaces.
Mind reading tech
It must also be said that if people can use gadgets to control devices with their brain, similar gadgets can enable others to read their mind. In China, workers have been wearing helmets equipped with brain sensors which feed information to their employers about their state of mind – angry, depressed or anxious. The technology is used in the military, power supply and telecoms industry, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. The technology is used to increase workers’ productivity. Concerns have been raised about the invasion of workers’ privacy.
In 2019, a young French man suffering from tetraplegia demonstrated how he could power an exoskeleton with his brain and walk. The technology, which works by recording and decoding brain signals, was trialled for two years by scientists at biomedical research centre Clinatec and the University of Grenoble in France. But unlike the wearable headband launched by the Gaul startup, the brain computer interface, in this case, relied on implants surgically placed under the subject’s skull.
Read more about this topic in Brain power