Why Building Brain-Computer Interfaces Is So Hard

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Why Building Brain-Computer Interfaces Is So Hard

The future was supposed to be all about hooking up computers to our brain.

Novels like “Neuromancer” made it seem like we were just years away from creating a functional brain-computer interface (BCI) that would let us enter a shared virtual reality. But the latest phase of a study that translates attempts at conversation from a speech-impaired, paralyzed patient into words on a screen shows just how far we have to go before making a neural connection with computers. 

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“Trying to get the computer program to decipher the intended movement based solely on signals recorded from the cortex is like you or me trying to piece together the meaning of a sentence that is missing many important words,” Edelle Field-Fote, director of spinal cord injury research at Shepherd Center, told Lifewire in an email interview. “Sometimes we will correctly guess the missing words based on the context, and other times we will not.”

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