Two technologies that could revolutionize how we interact with computers, and the world around them, are brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), and augmented reality. Although both technologies are still in the early stages of development they have already proven to be useful in many applications, including medical rehabilitation, military training, and entertainment. We will be exploring how these technologies can be combined to create more immersive and powerful experiences.
A brain-computer interface allows people to control computers and other devices using only their thoughts. This is usually done by attaching sensors on the scalp that detect brain activity and convert it into commands for a computer to follow. BCIs can revolutionize how we interact with computers as they eliminate the need to use physical input devices such as keyboards and mice. People with disabilities may find this particularly useful, as they might not be able to use traditional input devices.
Augmented reality is a technology that augments our perception of the real world by overlaying digital information on it. This is usually done with a headset or another device that displays digital information within the user’s field-of-view. AR can revolutionize how we interact with the world. It provides real-time guidance and information as we live our lives. AR could help us visualise complex concepts more intuitively, such as by providing directions to destinations, information about objects, and even assist us in finding our way around.
How can brain-computer interfaces complement each other in augmented reality? One way is that it allows us to interact more naturally and intuitively with the digital world. A BCI allows us to think of the actions that we want and not have to use physical input devices. This is especially helpful in AR applications where we might not want to be tied to a keyboard and mouse. Instead, we can use our thoughts to interact digitally with AR experiences.
BCIs and AR can also complement each other by creating more immersive experiences. A BCI can be used to control an AR headset. This allows us to feel more “present” in the virtual world. We are able to interact and move with digital elements in a natural and intuitive manner. This is especially helpful in applications such as virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and other areas where we want to feel fully immersed in a digital world.
Combining AR and BCIs has many medical benefits. BCIs can be used to assist patients with brain injuries and disorders in regaining control over their limbs and other functions. Doctors could use a BCI to monitor an AR system to help patients practice and visualize the movements that they need in order to regain their function. This could be particularly useful in rehabilitating stroke patients.
These are five examples of real-world applications for brain-computer interfaces combined with augmented reality.
- Medical rehabilitation: AR and BCIs can be used to aid patients with brain injuries to regain control over their limbs. A patient suffering from paralysis might use an AR system to help them practice and visualize the movements that they need in order to regain their function.
- Training for military personnel: AR and BCIs can be combined to create realistic simulations. Soldiers could use a BCI for control of an AR system that allows them practice various tactics and scenarios in virtual environments.
- Education: AR and BCIs can be combined to provide more engaging and interactive learning experiences for students. A student might use an AR system to help them understand complex concepts and practice problem solving skills.
- Gaming: AR and BCIs can be combined to create immersive gaming experiences. A BCI can be used by a gamer to control an AR system, which allows them to interact more naturally with the game world.
- Industrial training: AR and BCIs can be used to teach workers complex tasks such as maintenance or assembly line work. Workers can use a BCI to control an AR network so they can practice their tasks before they attempt them in the real world. This reduces the chance of errors or accidents.
The combination of brain-computer interfaces with augmented reality has the potential to transform the way we interact and communicate with computers and the environment around us. Combining these technologies can help us create natural, intuitive ways to interact with the digital world and more immersive experiences in applications such as VR and MR. Combining AR and BCIs could also have medical applications. This could be used to help brain injury patients or other people with neurological disorders regain their function. These technologies are still in early stages of development but they could have a major impact on how we live and work in future.