Unlocking the Power of Brain Machine Interfaces

In many industrial and military processes, fatigue or a loss of concentration can be a big risk.

At present, concentration and fatigue monitoring are carried out via wearables using optical sensors, which can be inaccurate, or via a complex system of cameras, which can be expensive to install and maintain as well as monitor.

Therefore, strategies leveraging BMI technology—primarily EEG—to monitor and improve concentration are important and a potentially vast source of revenue.

This approach is already proving popular in the mining industry, where health and safety risks due to lapses in concentration are extreme. It is likely that this approach will rapidly become popular elsewhere.

Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a medical device which is used to restore hearing to those who are hard of hearing or profoundly deaf. The interface is partially invasive, with an electrode connected to the cochlea nerve in the inner ear. The electrode then interfaces with this nerve, simulating the sensation of hearing. The success rate of cochlear implants is impressively high, with an average of 80 percent sentence understanding in audiology tests, compared with 10 percent sentence understanding for standard hearing aids.

The cochlear implant is now a readily accepted medical device, which has been in use for a reasonably lengthy time. The first device was implanted in a patient in 1964, with the modern multichannel device being developed from the late 1970s. However, it was not until the early 2000s that these devices have been available through health insurers or public health systems

For those who have additional damage to the auditory nerve or the cochlea, a device can be fitted which transmits feedback straight to the brainstem, called an ABI (Auditory Brainstem Implant). This system is much more difficult to fit, with more advanced brain surgery required.

ABI devices are also more expensive than traditional cochlear implants, due to their more difficult implantation and lower volumes of production. There is also a smaller addressable market, due to the lower number of patients with damage to their cochlea or auditory nerve. The number of centers which can implant the device is also limited, with only 3 centers in the UK.

Sleep Modification Tools

Sleep disorders affect many people and provide another use case in the medical field. The statistics for sleep disorders are stark: 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder, with drowsy driving responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 non-fatal injuries annually in the US.

As sleep disorders are such a wide-ranging problem, the area is of significant interest for research on improvements. BMIs are one potential solution for this issue. BMI devices using EEG can be leveraged to accurately map sleep status and identify ways to alter sleep, primarily through the use of targeted biofeedback. This is where music is used to alter the sleep state into a more restful one. One example of just such a device is the Dreem headband.

Future Outlook: Juniper’s View

Juniper forecasts that that global hardware sales revenue from BMIs will reach $18.9 billion per annum by 2027, up from an estimated $2.4 billion in 2018.

Medical uses will account for 78 percent of shipment revenues by 2027. This will be due to development of advanced medical uses, such as artificial vision and prosthetic control.

Shipments of BMI devices for consumer use, such as guided meditation, account for a very low proportion of device shipments, presently under 1 percent in 2018. This proportion will reach over 6 percent of a much larger market in 2027 as technology, acceptance and additional use cases evolve.


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