Brain Computer Interfaces

What is a Brain Computing Interface?

A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a machine that can read and analyze brain signals and translate those into commands that a computer can execute. They become more accurate over time by analyzing your brain signals and learning from them, matching them to specific actions that you desire. An electroencephalogram (EEG) which measures brain waves is not a brain computer interface. This is because even though an EEG records brain signals it does not interpret what these brain signals mean -- it just displays them. Brain computer interfaces arecommonly used for people with motor disorders to help them communicate or complete tasks . 

There are three main types of brain computer interfaces. There are invasive, partially invasive, and non-invasive systems. An invasive BCI involves inserting electrodes directly into the brain. They measure the clearest brain signals compared to the other two methods because they are getting the signals directly from the brain. Partially invasive BCI involves embedding electrodes into the skull rather than into the brain. The brain signals measured are a little less clear than the invasive method, but it is also a less invasive surgery. The third type of BCI is a non-invasive BCI. For non-invasive BCI’s the brain signals are measured through sensors that are placed on top of the skull and do not involve any surgical procedure. They produce the least clear results, but it is also viewed as the safest type of BCI. 

How will brain-computer interfaces change the future?

The idea for brain computer interfaces was formulated to help those with motor disorders so they could perform everyday tasks. They were meant to be a way to improve the quality of life for those who are aging or have disorders affecting their ability to control their body. A brain computer interface can be used to allow someone who is paralyzed to operate an electronic wheelchair, an amputee to operate a prosthetic limb, or can help someone who is blind regain some form of sight. A scientist named William Dobelle was able to partially restore sight through cameras on a pair of glasses that sent visual signals to an implant in the brain. The introduction of Brain computer interfaces can drastically improve the quality of life for many people around the world.  

Some Disadvantages of Brain-Computer Interfaces 

Although there are brain computer interfaces that are available today there is still a lot of work to be done. One disadvantage of invasive brain computer interfaces is that the electrodes that are inserted into the brain can create scar tissue over time because the brain is rejecting the foreign object. This can cause the brain signals to become weaker and unclear. Brain computer interfaces can also be very expensive. Not everyone can afford the technology required. It also takes a very long time for brain computer interfaces to go through their learning phase and even then, they are not always that accurate at interpreting brain signals. Brain signals are very complex and can be quite difficult to understand so it takes a long time for the interfaces to learn to interpret your specific brain function.  


Brain computer interfaces have the potential to improve the quality of life for many people around the globe. They allow an amputee to control their prosthetic limbs and can even restore sight for those who cannot see. There is a lot of potential for brain computer interfaces as they advance in the future. They are far from perfect and have a long way to go, but they could become the future of how we interact with machines. 


[1] J. J. Shih, D. J. Krusienski, and J. R. Wolpaw, “Brain-computer interfaces in medicine,” Mayo Clinic proceedings, Mar-2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 12-Oct-2021].  

[2] A. N. Belkacem, N. Jamil, J. A. Palmer, S. Ouhbi, and C. Chen, “Brain computer interfaces for improving the quality of life of older adults and elderly patients,” Frontiers, 01-Jan-1AD. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 12-Oct-2021].  

[3] “BCI - Brain Computer Interface,” Mepits. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 12-Oct-2021].