Key TakeawaysNeurotechnology can have simple applications like helping you keep your focus while working from home. Companies like Neurable are focusing on making consumer-facing neurotechnology products. Experts say the future of neurotechnology isn't Elon Musk's Neuralink, but rather consumer applications that can treat various problems. Gorodenkoff / Getty Images
Neurotechnology has far more applications than a science-fiction story about inserted brain chips might lead you to believe. Experts say the technology can help us tackle everything from focus to productivity.
When people think of neurotech, they usually think it's a far-off futuristic technology that will make us walking robots, but that's not the case of neurotech today. The current technology can help people with simple everyday problems improve their lives.
"The main thing we want to focus on is how we can solve real-world problems, and focus is a real problem that individuals have, especially in the current working climate," Dr. Ramses Alcaide, the CEO of Neurable, a neurotechnology company, told Ach5 in a phone interview.
Helping Your Productivity
While neurotechnology isn't the norm in the consumer world yet, Neurable is trying to make it more accessible to help consumers with everyday problems.
The company's brain-computer interfaced (BCI) headphones (launch date is still pending) have applications with a landscape of capabilities, specifically designed to help you keep your focus.
"If we understand that you're losing your focus, we can automatically play music [through the headphones] that we know will increase brain waves that will help keep you focused for a little bit longer to power through that creative moment of your day," Alcaide said.
"The main thing we want to focus on is how we can solve real-world problems, and focus is a real problem that individuals have, especially in the current working climate."
Neurable's technology uses EEG (electroencephalography) sensors to noninvasively monitor your brain's electrical activity, then combines it with cutting-edge artificial intelligence algorithms to better understand how the brain handles things like focus and distractions.
Alcaide that figuring out when you are most productive during the day has become essential, since most of us are working from home now and have different work routines than we are used to.
"A lot of these hybrid office-home situations are going to be more common, and that's where technology that really understands how we can help individuals self-understand themselves is going to become incredibly important," he said.
For instance, Alcaide said that, in one test, Neurable's BCI headphones were able to deduct that someone was a morning person, and pinpointed when to take breaks to optimize productivity.
"We were able to figure out when she was fatiguing, and so we told her to take a five-minute break, and that five-minute break turned into two more hours of productivity for her day," he said.
The Future Of Neurotech
Alcaide said the future of neurotechnology does not look like a "Black Mirror" episode from Elon Musk's Neuralink—with goals of controlling hormone levels and streaming music directly into people's brains.
"What [Neuralink] is working on is what a prosthetic would be for an individual, and what we're working on is shoes in comparison to that," Alcaide said.
"When people think of something like Neurolink as what neurotechnology is, they miss out on the fact that that's really not meant for consumers, and it's not going to be used for consumers for quite some time, so there's really no value right now."
Instead, Alcaide said the neurotech industry could solve simple problems in simple ways.
"We want to see neurotechnology embedded into more everyday devices," Alcaide said.
Neurotech not only could help people keep focus on their work, but it also could assist with a range of mental health conditions, from ADHD to Parkinson's disease.
"There's a lot of mental health applications to [neurotechnology]," Alcaide said.
"Burnout and fatigue are all big, but they lead into a lot of issues associated with depression and other problems, as well, so neurotechnology can help individuals be empowered to prevent that."
Like Neurable's BCI headphones, the notion of putting out data for people to learn about their mental state could become as normalized as seeing your step count and heart rate on a smartwatch.
"Sometimes people just need that data, and that's going to help them be able to learn to take breaks," he said.