Tech that will colonise the meta-smart home’s final frontier
by Leanne Goott. Future smart lifestyles in automated habitats are bound by the tech developed for the metaverse, particularly that of Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) systems.Wednesday, 13 Apr 2022
by Leanne Goott. Future smart lifestyles in automated habitats are bound by the tech developed for the metaverse, particularly that of Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) systems – the holy grail of functional intent.
With metaverse adopted technologies such as gaze tracking, hand tracking and haptics, promising to launch the smart home into a highly advanced ecosystem. BCI tech, by contrast, has its sights set on the final frontier of interacting with one’s environments.
The focus of electroencephalogram (EEG)-based BCI systems is functional intent, whereby brain signals are analysed and translated into commands to receptive devices that carry out a function. Animal BCI testing began in the 70s, while first attempts involving humans started in the 90s. Due to explosive growth over the past two decades, BCI tech now finds itself at the epicentre of scientific research and development.
To date, the most studied potential of BCI systems has been in the life-altering assistance it can offer people with severe motor disabilities and those who have lost or damaged limbs or who suffer from psychiatric disorders. The future potential of BCIs (sometimes called neural interfaces) is stupefying and beyond what many view as within the realms of possibility. It’s even speculated that a BCI system will one day have the capacity to bank all human knowledge in the cloud and then project this into our minds through a thought trigger.
A revolution within evolution
In October 2021, neurotech start-up NextMind gave future tech strategist Dr Mark van Rijmenam an easy-to-use, non-invasive plug-and-play system to try out. Van Rijmenam said the portable device blew his mind: “… testing it in hotel quarantine with a two-year-old around you is not the right environment to be hyper-focused – [yet] I was able to play a game with my mind, change TV channels with my mind and use some basic controls on my computer. I was experiencing the future.”
Five months later, and on 16 March 2022, frontier-tech company NexStem, announced its latest end-to-end BCI offering. They claim to have taken a critical next step in inserting humans into the metaverse and unlocking neural data by improving the capture quality of EEG signals utilised by their award-winning BCI headsets and software kits.
According to NexStem, they’ve now reached that stage where their headsets can provide the most current, non-invasive means to seamlessly communicate with machines by engaging the power of the human brain to control actions and external devices. Their future goal is to go beyond EEG data applications and capture and harness all biosignals generated by the human body – a goal that is in line with the metaverse’s intrinsic interaction and control objectives.
Looking toward a more distant future, it seems there won’t even be any need for headsets as the world becomes more comfortable with invasive BCI applications. These will have a greater capacity to stream virtual visuals directly to the brain, thereby granting users a more comprehensive platform of connection, interaction and functionality.
BCI is at the heart of the Metaverse
While eye tracking and voice and hand-based tech will still have their roles to play, if the metaverse is to become the spectacular reality that many of us are hoping for, further developments in BCIs will sit at the heart of everything that gives life to our world’s twin. Likewise, the tech which will invigorate the metaverse will also empower smart habitats and the smart-enabled lifestyles they oversee.
Let’s not assume that the main function of BCIs in the smart home will be limited to controlling various devices or appliances. The most advanced future BCI system will have a more consummate and holistic function. Such a system will form the backbone of how we negotiate all real and virtual realities in both the metaverse and the smart home.
Today’s smart home might still be in its infancy, but that’s rapidly changing. Within an incredibly short timeframe, we’ve seen the emergence of Matter (which sorts interoperability issues between smart devices), and massive strides made in robotics and emotion AI. Further developments in the latter fields will one day provide the smart home with AI envoys that are fluent in one’s habits and needs and receptive to emotional and physical signals and changes.
Yet, the current explosion in developing BCIs remains the most exciting prospect for the smart lifestyle of the future. Soon we might even need to drop the ‘smart’ designation and come up with a whole new label that’s more attuned to frontier-tech transfiguring the firmament over how we live and navigate our intelligent habitats, or the metaverse, for that matter.
Main image credit: Supplied.
Leanne Goott is marketing manager of Mobile in Africa (MIA). Her more than 12 years of experience includes digital marketing strategy and execution, integrated marketing, team and relationship management, and event management. She believes the role of marketing in an age of greater connectivity and intensifying customer expectations, has never been more important.
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