“Brainternet” Brings The Human Mind Online

The human brain knows no limits. The fact that we only use 10% of it remains a myth, as antennas and bendable batteries are furthering biomedical engineering. Lately, researchers at Wits University in Johannesburg have made the greatest breakthrough yet with the “Brainternet.” (But it’s not exactly what you might think!)

The project works by taking brainwave EEG signals gathered by an Emotiv EEG device connected to the user’s head. The signals are then transmitted to a low cost Raspberry Pi computer, which live streams the data to an application programming interface and displays the data on an open website where anyone can view the activity.

In essence, you can download information about your brain and pretty much study the thing. So, no, you can’t update your Twitter in your sleep. However, the technology is still potentially valuable in transferring brain data.

“Brainternet can be further improved to classify recordings through a smart phone app that will provide data for a machine-learning algorithm. In [the] future, there could be information transferred in both directions – inputs and outputs to the brain,”

Sorry to disappoint you, millennials, but keep in mind that understanding brain functions could make mind-controlling Facebook possible eventually. For now, stick to a MacBook.

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Computer Allows Locked-In Patients To Communicate

Victims of damaging accidents or conditions don’t always recover completely, but technology can improve their lifestyles. Medical algorithms can help patients with neurological disorders to walk again. The (not-so) humble iPhone can even act as a hearing aid. But for locked-in patients who have lost all muscle control, there aren’t many options for recuperation. Nonetheless, a nano-science professor at Georgia State University has created a new computer interface, allowing patients to communicate with their eyes.

Zhong Lin Wang and his colleagues describe a device, mounted to a pair of eyeglasses, that lies gently against the skin beside the eye and can feel the pressure, in the form of an electrical signal, as the skin presses against it during a blink.

As with any eye-based technology, Wang and his team are still working on the machine differentiating reflexive and intentional blinks. But so far, outcomes look great. Not only is the computer non-invasive, it’s, “stable, small, light, flexible, and low-cost” among other words in the thesaurus.

When placed on the temple of the glasses, the sensor sits gently against the wrinkle beside the user’s eye. That skin flexes slightly outward during a blink, bending the nanogenerator and sending an electrical signal.

The device continues to undergo testing, but things are certainly looking up for locked-in patients.

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How Technology Isn’t Killing Us

I remember when 3D glasses and Game Boys were the future. Little did I know that the likes of Snapchat and Alexa would steal the technological spotlight. Most science fiction in film and literature see an ugly demise. More often than not, technology is evil, and if you’ve ever seen an episode of “Black Mirror”, you’d agree. While we place so much blame on smartphones and the Internet, we fail to realize that in some ways, they’re actually useful.

We owe our improved communication to SEs and Galaxy Notes. After all, snail mail is pretty much a thing of the past. People may perceive our constant tapping away as social isolation when, in fact, we are involving ourselves with others–just in another medium. Yes, social media is part of a vicious universe, but with it, we are able to build connections. 

Businesses now have platforms like Facebook and Twitter to thank for their growing successes. Spreading the word has never been easier. Through online advertising and connectivity, brands become more efficient and productive. Not to mention they manage to save an enormous amount of time and money. Promoting through billboards and magazines seem to be almost primitive–definitely a thing of the past.

The Internet is home to everything viral. Fake news is sometimes part of that sphere. However, with such easy access to information, fact-checking technology is always available. Details that previously would’ve required a trip to the library are now just a Google search away. While the facts we learn may be seemingly futile, everything has value to some extent.

Technology has also piloted improvements in healthcare and travel. Everything is convenient. With new features such as online travel agents and virtual therapy, most of our needs are attended to much quicker. Our movements become fleeting and gratification is met in the blink of an eye. We may grow impatient, but with technology evolving as fast as it is, virtually nothing will have to wait.

Additionally, online classes educate us anywhere at any time. We can now learn remotely, outside the four walls of a classroom. Even Ivy Leagues are jumping on the bandwagon, offering courses that are accessible through your laptop or smartphone. Perhaps the question is not, “what are parents feeding their kids that make them so smart?” but “what is on our kids’ smartphones that make them geniuses?” To be perfectly honest, it makes much more sense.

Of course, technology, whether we like to think so or not, also boosts creativity and imagination. Because the Internet makes sharing ideas so simple, we can create jobs in the comfort of our own homes. Design a bestselling app and you’re pretty much financially set for life. Fund-me websites also make concepts reality. With so many people willing to donate to different prototypes, bringing ideas to fruition is not that difficult. In fact, we, not the government, may be funding majority of our future.

We may have doubts about technology taking over the world (or the universe). We may see ourselves at the hands of robots and machines. But the human mind is powerful and together with technology, can pretty much conquer anything.

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