Unlocking the Power of Brain Machine Interfaces

Since BMI’s initial inception, the U.S. has been a leading force in the development of practical applications.
Visual Prosthetics: There have been experiments using BMIs for visual prostheses, which have seen varying degrees of success. Research is still ongoing.

Brain Stimulation: BMIs are being developed to enable the treatment of certain neurological conditions. Chief among these are ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.

Limb Prosthetics: BMIs are being developed as an interface for controlling prosthetic limbs, by interpreting signals from the brain as a control interface. Current research is based on providing feedback to create the sensation of feeling in the prostheses.

Consumer Applications:
Various new consumer applications are being created for BMIs. These range from headsets that can be used in the home for entertainment purposes to devices that aim to track and improve sleep.

Military Applications: One of the leading sources of research has been from the military, primarily funded in the U.S. by DARPA. This ranges from the initial research on BMI as a technology to approaches such as artificial telepathy, threat detection and performance enhancement. The uses are still, however, all experimental.

Trends in BMI

EEG Technology Dominating Most BMI Use Cases

Despite the well-documented shortcomings in EEG (Electroencephalography) technology, it remains the ‘go-to’ technology for most BMI use cases. While EEG technology lacks the accuracy and clarity of signal of other technologies, it has one major advantage: its non-invasive nature. Most of the use cases outside the medical area are not transformative enough that they warrant the use of direct brain implantation. This is in part due to the risks associated with the more invasive approaches so, for the most part, EEG will remain popular. As medical research advances BMI technology further, it is likely that other non-invasive methods with higher accuracy will become available, or the risks associated with more invasive approaches will decrease.

US Leading BMI Research & Development

Since BMI’s initial inception, the U.S. has been a leading force in the development of practical applications. This is despite the FDA’s somewhat restrictive rules concerning the use of new technologies in the medical arena.

There are several reasons for this domination of the field, which include:

  • Talent Availability – The U.S. has a high-quality university education system, which produces a reliably large number of academic researchers. This ensures the availability of appropriate staff.
  • DARPA – DARPA has consistently funded various elements of BMI research, catalyzing what may otherwise be described as a relatively low-priority research field.
  • Increasing Health Insurer Acceptance – In the U.S., new treatments are dependent on acceptance from health insurers and their willingness to pay for them. To date, health insurers have shown high levels of support for cochlear implants, which encourages their increasing adoption.

Top 3 BMI Use Cases

Juniper has examined the emerging market, analyzing key metrics such as expected user impact, key barriers to adoption and surrounding ecosystem readiness. It identified three use cases with the highest potential, which are: 

Concentration Monitoring

In many industrial and military processes, fatigue or a loss of concentration can be a big risk. On a production line, a lapse in concentration could result in the production of hundreds of incorrect products or an accident. In the military, a lapse in concentration could result in the injury or death of service personnel. Another area where this problem is widespread is in the transport and logistics sector, where drivers often travel long distances with significant risks.


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