All in the Mind: New Transhuman Tech
As explored in our Look Ahead, a new wave of transhuman technology is emerging that promises to bring humans and computers ever closer together. We examine three projects pushing the frontiers of mind and machine – and the opportunities for brands.
- Neuralink: Elon Musk's Neuralink has revealed some of the pioneering technology behind its planned brain-machine interface – a "neural lace" made from threads that are 4 to 6 μm in width, embedded deep in the brain. While Neuralink currently relies on a wired connection to read neural spikes, the ultimate goal is to create a wireless system that connects to a wearable module, controlled through an iPhone app.
The first application of the technology will likely see the implants used to give paralysed people control over computers or prosthetics. For other examples of inclusive design for people with disabilities, see our Access for All report.
- Facebook: Not to be outdone, Facebook has released an update on its own brain-computer interface, using implanted electrodes to "read" words and phrases from the brain in real time. The company also showcased a portable, wearable device that uses near-infrared light to track blood oxygenation in the brain – a possible step towards a non-invasive, wearable brain-imaging device for consumers.
- Mind Vases: Mexican designer José de la O has partnered with Japanese technology firm Mirai Innovation to create vases that are shaped by brainwaves. The experiment uses Mirai's Aura biosignal monitor to read the subject's brainwaves, enabling them to alter the shape of a vase in a computer-aided design program by concentrating or relaxing. The finished design was then 3D printed. De la O envisages the technology being used by laypersons to create designs without having to learn craft skills.