When technology is built and sold to read the users’ thoughts or minds, so that we may interact with our electronics directly from our brains, it is going to be an obvious game-changer. What we do with the new ease, access and opportunities that such technology offers, will change our lives and the world around us. That change obviously will not come without disruption. The Brain Computer Interface is a system of input that allows the user to directly instruct the computer using thought, rather than touch or voice.
That Brain Computer Interface enabled products will be as commonplace in the year 2030 as are touch-screen enabled products like tablets or smartphones in 2014, if not more commonplace, is a certainty. Along the way however, what and how much this new game-changing technology will disrupt, is an important question to ask; businesses and jobs depend on the answer.
Here is a list of some of the most salient things, that the Brain Computer Interface is most like to disrupt.
Already under threat from touch-screen technology quite significantly, this trusty hardware component that long defined that Personal Computer along with the monitor, CPU and mouse, is likely to be suffer the fate of pagers thanks to mobile phones or typewriters thanks to personal computers. Having survived the emergence of Voice-input technology largely, it is unlikely that the keyboard will survive advent of the Brain Computer Interface, where everything happens as a thought, with much greater ease and simplified instruction methods.Therefore, if you are in the hardware business providing or manufacturing keyboards or parts that are related, you need to factor this into your 10-15 year plan.
Unfortunately, it isn’t the rodent that the Brain Computer Interface technology is likely to be a threat to. Whether it is the external mouse you drag on a pad or table, or the built in one on your laptop, which is actually a touch-pad just below the keys of the keyboard, with which you manoeuvre the cursor or arrow o your screen, when you don’t have to point anywhere, click anything or touch anything, is the mouse really necessary? Like the keyboard, this going to go into sharp decline. Therefore, if you are in the hardware business providing or manufacturing the mouse or parts that are related, you need to factor this into your 10-15 year plan. The same goes for makers of the mouse pad.
Earphones and Hearing Aids
Google has already enabled it’s soon to be mass-marketed Glass HMD device with a feature where sound travels directly to the brain. This technology will only improve and expand with time, in tandem with the Brain Computer Interface to replace the prevailing audio devices. The plus point will be, less propensity of damage to the ear drums. When it comes to listening to our devices or communicating through tech mediums though, we will not be using our ear drums any more. The makers of earphones will have to factor this in their plans and decisions for the coming 6-10 year period, even before the mass-marketing of Brain Computer Interface enabled products occurs. The attribution here to the Brain Computer Interface for the disruption, is the growth of the ear-drum bypassing technology in the lead-up and eventual convergence.
As for the ageing or those developing auditory issues for miscellaneous reasons, retail access to wearable computing devices which use the ear-drum bypassing technology will render a separate device in the form of the hearing aid redundant. “Why not opt for something that offers more?, is the litmus test question for consumer thinking here.
When you read the above, you knew this one was coming. A keyboard, a mouse and a monitor constitutes a laptop, apart off course from the core that is on the inside. While the core remains, the computer itself survives, the definition of computing or Personal Computing changes over time. From desktop to laptop to tablet. What will we call our future Personal Computing Device or PCD? That time will tell. What we do know now is this, that the laptop will be replaced by Brain-controlled wearable PCDs, supported by an array of accessories of the users’ choosing, whether HMDs or holographic projectors or simply invisible lenses worn like the conventional contact lenses of today and so on. In other words, computing will get increasingly compact and invisible, especially as technology like the Brain Computer Interface will allow it to. Why bother lugging around or handle something fragile, when you have to option to compute, view, hear and experience in your mind, in virtual space or have all your visuals projected around your in holograms from micro-durable devices at a thought? Life-span of he laptop as of 2014? It is already under threat from tablets and likely will not see itself surviving till the birth of Brain Computer Interface enabled devices.
This is a case of technological karma. The touch-screen is in itself a quiet disruptor, driving conventional laptops and eventually laptops altogether in part (other technologies also being the disruption culprits to cause the laptop’s decline), into gradual redundancy over the period of the next decade. With the Brain Computer Interface converging with other technological progress to enable Iron Man 3 like holographic computing experiences or direct to brain audio visual experiences, you will not need a screen any more, nor will you need to touch anything with commands going directly from thought. By 2030, the touch-screen will be in the limited role of back-up input option for important devices or machines when the Brain Computer Interface functions fails or malfunctions.
Yes, the tablet, now disrupting the laptop, gradually, will itself go, when viewing and computing experience is enhanced with wearable computers, which will use Brain Computer Interface technology. If the touch-screen is going to decline, it is very much because the Brain Computer Interface, will be disrupting touch computing altogether, being touch-screen laptops or tablets. Yet, it is expected, that through novel enhancements and innovation, the tablet will persist to 2027-2028 amongst a minority loyalists who will refuse to let go of the technology.
With voiceless communication possible, through direct from brain instructional transmission or communication long-distance through thought-to-thought conversation enabling, it is needless to say, that we will not need to use our voices very much for our wearable PCDs. As it is, our smartphones will be in the process of being disrupted by the rise of wearable computers that will absorb the communication function or purpose in our lives. The voice-input system or technology too will decline in its monetary worth, as a back-up input option where the Brain Computer Interface feature fails or malfunctions.
This article is the second in a Foresight Series written by Harish Shah on the Brain Computer Interface Technology, originally posted on Singapore Futurist, before being edited for reproduction on Futurista.