The Devices That Will Read Your Brain—and Enhance It
In the not-so-distant future, wearable computers will read brain waves and offer suggestions in real time to improve performance in everyday activities
You’re feeling distracted and can’t get your work done despite a looming deadline. Your headphones detect your lack of focus and suggest you take a break, while a headband beams signals to adjust your brain activity and energize you. Crisis averted.
That’s the future technologists imagine, and a variety of devices are being developed to enhance the brain’s performance in day-to-day life.
Right now, the market for devices that can read brain activity and translate it into actions is in its infancy. But, thanks in part to Elon Musk’s startup Neuralink, which is developing implantable brain-computer interfaces—or BCIs—that can record data from thousands of brain cells, investment and interest in these devices have soared in recent years.
New wearable devices designed to provide feedback during day-to-day activities build on implantable BCIs used for medical interventions, as well as decades of research into how the brain works. Efforts on implantable devices focus on restoring function. Applications aimed to allow communication and movement have been in development for decades to help paralyzed patients, and researchers have made major leaps with implantable devices in recent years, including giving voice back to the voiceless.