What will come after smartphones? The next big revolution.
The major technical revolutions come every 10 years or so. Last time we got smartphones and now it’s impossible to imagine our lives without them, but what is waiting behind the corner to replace them? Something even bigger?
We see many trends come and go, but some trends stand out — we call them revolutions. They are adopted and used by the majority, and they most likely benefit the majority. The last time it happened was when Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone in 2007. It was a game-changer. No keyboard, easy-to-use — music, email, calls, and even Internet access available — from a phone!
Apple’s revolutionary product, an iPhone, changed the whole industry — after this announcement, many other companies followed. An iPhone — a smartphone — was a triumph. The race has started — companies were fighting for the customers' attention… and money.
Nowadays over 3.5 billion people use smartphones every day. Roughly, half of all humans on Earth are smartphone users. Samsung, Google, Xiaomi, Sony, and many others have joined the competition to create the best-selling product.
Big companies host press conferences each year, or even twice a year, where they present their new inventions —the latest smartphones. And we all go like…
or maybe… not?
Actually, the new smartphone/laptop releases don’t excite us anymore. Minor improvements each year that are presented as technological milestones don’t make us act like this dude in the picture.
The sales are dropping, people decide not to upgrade because they don’t see enough value.
I like to think of exciting revolutions that change day-to-day life drastically. Something that’s truly exciting. Think of a Personal Computer or WiFi? Then a cell phone? An iPad? A smartphone? Something that everyone feels(and sees) affecting their lives. We will talk about this type of revolution here. Not some abstract untouchable concepts like AI or Quantum Computing, that yes, are astonishing, but we are researching something all can experience, something we can actually reach.
We, humans, are craving something new.
The smartphone era is (almost) over. So what’s the next technological breakthrough?
BCI is an emerging technology that builds a direct channel between the brain and the computer.
Brain-Machine Interface(BMI), or brain-computer interface (BCI). Tiny implants that are inserted in one’s skull(but not always).
What can they do to make you care?
Well, they have the potential to:
- replace smartphones
- replace PCs
- replace mouses, keyboards
- replace TV, monitors
- replace cars, and planes, and even zoom
… replace almost all the tech that we now know — and create a simulation of life —The Matrix (if we are not in one already, lol)
Yes, kinda. That’s a big vision — merging humans with machines(and AI) by using brain-machine interfaces. The device intercepts electrical signals that travel between neurons in the brain and sends that message to the machine — computer, smartphone, something else(?) — where it’s converted into “computer language”(applicable command) and received by the machine. The request is then processed and a reply is sent back to the brain.
So does that mean that we’re a few steps away from becoming cyborgs? Yeah, if we’re not cyborgs already — now we’re basically merged with the digital world but through external devices. With neural interfaces, it’s just…faster.
BMIs will increase the speed at which people interact with technology by 1000–10000 times.
Information — right to your brain
You can use BMI to browse the Internet, to send texts, to watch funny videos of cats on YouTube — anything you would normally need a machine for. Although, you don't anymore. Everything goes right into your brain.
For starters, you would, however, need to connect a machine to your BMI, and all the information will go through the machine. As the technology develops, you will be able to connect your brain to the World Web(or other humans) with no additional accessories — only the BMI.
We can literally connect human brains together. You would be able to communicate with someone just by thinking about it. You wouldn’t need to convert your thoughts into words, you would be able to share thoughts.
We don’t think in words but in images. Therefore, when talking to someone the meaning is twisted. Just think about it: first, you compress your vision into words; then, you say it out loud; only then, the addressant receives your message and interprets it in their own way— by this time the inner meaning is almost lost. The language might manage day-to-day communications yet not discussions about some complex problems. With BMIs the ideas will transfer instantly.
Simulation, The Matrix
You’ve probably tried VR(Virtual Reality) headsets, and they are awesome — they allow us to experience an alternative reality. Still, you need a lot of equipment for that — with BMI, everything feels truly real(is real) because the manipulations target no less than your brain(neurons). You are able to sense everything just like you do in real life.
One day, we might be able to connect ourselves to the new computer-programmed world(a simulation). In fact, there might be some form of higher intelligence that is doing it already. We might be living in a simulation. 🤯
For less scary applications, you will be able to host online meetings just if they were in-person — through a computer program.
These applications might sound unrealistic — but they are not. They are most certainly our future. We are at this point where we are sure it can be done but not yet sure how.
Nevertheless, there are some exciting applications at the market already.
The most likely scenario on how the technology is going to develop:
- Medical purposes. Improving focus and productivity. Remote control from your brain — playing games & IoT. Listening to music with no speakers.
- Connecting to your smartphone to share and receive data. Speechless human-to-human communication.
- Brain connected directly to the World Web.
- The simulation.
Let’s break it down
Brain-Computer Interface’s main function is to intercept electrical signals that travel between neurons in the brain. BCIs convert these signals into a form that can be detected by the external devise. Therefore, the command is performed.
- BCIs restore movement of paralyzed individuals and/or control special devices to help them — robotic limbs.
- They can also help fight psychiatric disorders like depression by stimulating certain parts of the brain.
- Brain-computer interfaces can improve focus by stimulating the brain with specific frequencies, or by generating specific sounds bad on neural activity.
- BCIs can help with meditation and studying.
- Brain activity reports & Boosting productivity
Your BMI will connect to your smartphone and you will have an app where you will be able to get analytics on your brain activity.
Apps that optimize your schedule and brainwaves depending on your goals will appear.
- Hands-free control and browsing
You won’t need to hold a smartphone in your hand to use it — let it rest in your pocket.
- Play video games with your mind — no need for a keyboard/mouse.
Get even more realistic experiences when playing.
- BCIs allow remote control of computers, devices, and even your smart home with just thoughts.
The reality where BCIs can analyze your mood and your needs and then communicate it to your smart home will soon be here. Your BMI will communicate to your devices for you and create scenarios that will make you happy.
Feeling cold? A warm bath will be prepared for you. Want a snack? Here’s your freshly made sandwich. And much more.
The era of remote control using external devices is over!
- Communication without speech
BMIs will interact with each other so you can silently share your thoughts. Actually, it’s not as sci-fi as it sounds. The successful experiments have already been conducted.
- Upload information to your brain and from your brain
Elon Musk says soon we’ll upload data right into our brains.
Traveling? Need to learn some Chinese? Here you go, just download this file. Scared of getting lost? Get the maps using your BMI. It will feel like you’re a native of Tokyo!
Had an exciting tour? Save your memories to the cloud. No need to take pictures, all the memories are stored with your BMI.
Btw, it will revolutionize our education system once again!
No more of this(endless hours of studying):
More of this(having fun):
World Web of human brains
- Brains connected to the world web
You would be able to browse the Internet without using any external device — only a BMI. At some point, brain-machine interfaces will connect directly to the Internet.
- We could have a human mind on the drive and interact with it— even after the person dies.
It’s like a back-up of one’s mind. A non-physical version of a person. Get used to Mr. Musk being around because he might become one of the first digital humans. The ‘digital mind’ can be uploaded into a robot or even another human body.
- Do you want to live in the Matrix? Or are we living in one already?
The Simulation theory has been here for quite some time. Maybe the advancements in biotech will help us figure out the answer to this.
At some point, a Matrix-like scenario might be the new era of human existence.
So, now that we have looked over the applications — we can confirm that BMI is smething that is going to change our lives forever in the near future! Just like the first iPhone did — actually much greater.
Where is the technology now and how far are we from ‘merging’?
Arguably, the most advanced company in the field is Neuralink. Guess who’s one of the main investors? Of course, our dear Martian friend aka Elon Musk.
In August, Neuralink presented a demo on pigs — it proved that the device can be safely installed and removed from an animal + it can send accurate signals back to the computer.
In January, Musk announced that they implanted a computer chip into the monkey’s skull now monkey can play video games with its mind. No need for remote control — only the brainwaves. Btw, the monkey is healthy and happy.
By the end of 2021, Neuralink’s team is planning on starting human trials.
The link is an invasive BMI which means that it requires surgery to install. There are non-invasive ones too but their applications are minimal as the signals are not very accurate. The surgery will be performed by the robot and would take 20–40 minutes.
After the surgery, you can go on with your day — nothing crazy.
How close are we to BMIs going mainstream? We can’t know but probably closer than most of us can imagine.
Quickly refresh the article:
- BMIs will be the greatest invention of the 21st century (even cooler than the iPhone&iPad)
- BMIs have the potential to revolutionize the way we live and interact with one another
- BMIs function by collecting neural activity from the brain
- Neuralink is starting human trials later this year
- The surgery with no consequences will only take 20–40 minutes
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This acticle was written by Dasha Nikolaeva, a 17-year-old innovator from Russia.