10 Neurotechnologies About to Transform Brain Enhancement and Brain Health
30,000 scientists and professionals gathered in Chicago recently for the annual Society for Neuroscience Conference, proving the growing interest to better understand the inner workings of the human brain, and to discover ways and technologies to enhance its health and performance.
To help discover which ongoing technological efforts are closer to touching our lives, Sharpbrains.com examined the world-wide landscape of Neurotechnology patents. Investment in these types of intellectual properties is a sign of what is on the horizon for Neurotechnology. They paid extra attention to neurtechnologies that were non-invasive and pose few, if any negative side effects. Through their year-long analysis of thousands of patents, they uncovered ten innovative brain health and brain enhancement systems on the cutting edge, that in their estimation are likely to go mainstream over the next few years.
- Big Data-enhanced diagnostics and treatments- As the costs of computing power, cloud accessibility and hardware sensors dwindle, brain health systems can leverage measurements taken from a far broader swath of the population than ever before possible. This analysis helps understand precisely where an individual’s readings lie on the distribution curve of health to disease, drives the ability to understand with nuance how one’s readings changes over time, and allows better discernment of proper diagnoses through biofeedback and neurofeedback and other treatments based on the efficacy of treatments with others having similar brain signatures.
- Brain-Computer Interfaces for device control- Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) link the commands of our thoughts to the devices of the world. The global BCI market is expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2020, of which 85% is estimated to be non-invasive.
- Real-time neuromonitoring (plus robotic aids)- A good number of companies, including Medtronic, Neuropace and St. Jude Medical, are currently developing systems to actively monitor brain activity and respond in real-time with appropriate treatments. These systems can discern symptoms leading up to an undesirable brain event (such as a seizure), and provide preemptive treatments to mitigate or altogether thwart epileptic activity.
- Neurosensor-based vehicle operator systems- Systems employing neural detection devices to monitor vehicle operator alertness (or a lack thereof) and take preventive measures with driver stimulation or vehicle autopilot/shut down systems are described by multiple patents. The US Army, automotive companies like Toyota, start-ups like Freer Logic, medical device makers and insurers are all patenting inventions addressing this concern.
- Cognitive training video games- Software applications accessible online and via mobile devices include gaming systems that target specific cognitive and/or emotional systems of the brain.
- Brain-responsive computing systems- A recent study by Microsoft finds that 68% of early tech adopters and 67% of heavy social media users really have to concentrate hard to stay focused on tasks. So, large tech companies are patenting systems to improve productivity and worker output, for example by using EEG signals to recognize user’s mental state and tailor the computing experience.
- Virtual Reality treatments, in conjunction with EEG and/or tDCS – Whether for treating PTSD and phobias through exposure therapy, or assisting surgeons in the operating room, virtual-reality is quickly gaining momentum. Medical tech companies such as Medtronic and Brainlab, and consumer research firms such as Nielsen are building significant IP portfolios in the area. The following patent by Evoke Neuroscience shows the interplay between virtual reality, EEG and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). This will be the new addition to our treatment program in 2016.
8. “Mindful” wearables – Wearables are being designed to improve not just physical health but mental well being as well. Meditation apps in tandem with consumer EEGs like InteraXon’s Muse aim to help users build concentration and self-regulation skills.
- Collaborative cognitive simulations- These are systems that focus on improving learning and skill acquisition across the extended workforce through online interactive platforms and cognitive simulation models (cognitive behavioral therapies). Human capital-intensive organizations such as AT&T and Accenture, are developing multiple applications in the area, and securing relevant intellectual property rights.
- Electrical and magnetic brain stimulation- These are technologies that can influence brain activity via magnetic fields or electrical impulses, and they are becoming increasingly common. Multiple hospitals and clinics already offer treatments based on brain stimulation, DARPA has awarded contracts to develop systems to augment memory with targeted electrical stimulation techniques, and consumers can buy wearable devices claiming to induce an array of brain states from calming to energizing.