China forming committee for BCI standards

China forming committee for BCI standards

China Committee

China is developing its own brain-computer interface technology standards. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has formed a committee to draft guidelines for the use of these interfaces. The committee is seeking input from experts in industry, research institutes, universities, and other relevant fields.

They aim to provide comments to guide the development of the standards by July 30, 2024. Brain-computer interfaces allow users to control external devices, such as robotic limbs, using brain signals. While some Western technologies have begun clinical trials, China is looking to catch up in this field.

President Xi Jinping has emphasized the importance of domestic innovation, especially given the restrictions China faces in accessing certain technologies from Western companies. This innovation push includes developing strategic technologies like brain-computer interfaces. China has made some progress in this area.

In March, a paralyzed patient successfully used a device implanted by Tsinghua University to interact with their environment. The new standards committee is actively seeking feedback from a wide range of stakeholders. This move signals a significant shift towards self-reliance in high-tech sectors, as China aims to become a leader in developing and implementing brain-computer interface technology.

China is working to close the technology gap with the United States. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has issued a plan for a new committee to develop standards guiding Chinese researchers in the emerging field of brain-computer interfaces. The public has until July 30 to submit suggestions for setting up the committee.

The committee will be responsible for devising standards on tasks such as brain information acquisition, preprocessing, encoding and decoding, data communication, and data visualization. It will also draft and revise technology application standards in fields like healthcare, education, consumer electronics, and ethical standards for clinical applications. Committee members will come from industrial and technical firms, research institutes, universities, and relevant government departments.

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Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology allows machines and devices to be controlled with neural signals. It could be used in medicine, autonomous driving, and virtual reality. The new committee will set road maps for the technology by organizing research among companies and academia.

It will also be responsible for promoting the implementation of the standards, which companies in the BCI sector will need to meet in their research, development, production, and management. In February, the Ministry of Science and Technology issued ethical guidelines for the use of BCI. BCI technology establishes a direct connection between the brain and external devices.

China’s BCI standards initiative

It is designed to support interaction between the human brain and computers or other equipment by interpreting neural signals. The technology offers paralyzed patients the ability to control computers, prosthetics, and other devices through thought alone.

Research into BCI began in the 1960s when scientists first explored how to interpret brainwaves. The field saw significant advances in the 1990s, propelled by improvements in computational power and neuroscience. Scientists are currently working to use BCI to help disabled people control prosthetics and for treating neurological disorders.

The technology could also enhance gaming experiences by enabling players to control games with their brainwaves for a greater sense of immersion. Additionally, BCI can create more natural and efficient interaction with electronic devices without the need for physical contact. In January, Neuralink implanted a BCI device in a man’s brain, allowing him to control a computer mouse with his mind.

Non-invasive BCI technology is finding commercial applications, spurring rapid growth in emerging markets like artificial cochlear implants and humanoid robots. According to the China Electronics Standardization Institute, the global market for brain-computer interfaces is expected to reach US$3.7 billion by 2027. China’s government has announced plans to develop a standard for brain-computer interfaces (BCI).

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This initiative aims to place Beijing at the forefront of international standards in this emerging field. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology outlined a strategy to establish a technical committee to spearhead the project. The committee will be tasked with devising input and output interface standards, advancing research in brain information encoding and decoding, data communication, and data visualization.

Developing a format for brain data, with a particular focus on electroencephalogram (EEG) data acquisition, will be a priority. Applications in medicine, health, education, and entertainment are on the agenda, along with work on ethics and safety considerations. Key stakeholders, including research institutions and government departments, are expected to participate.

These efforts could consolidate China’s research endeavors under a unified set of standards, potentially giving the nation a significant advantage by integrating early and thoroughly into the international standardization processes. China’s commitment to setting these standards reflects a broader ambition to lead in international technology arenas. Similar endeavors have been seen with technologies such as 5G, where Huawei has announced its intention to lead the deployment of 5.5G (also known as 5G-Advanced).

This strategy extends to China’s plans to play a more significant role in the development of IPv6 standards. While China’s timing in the BCI field is notable, they may face competition from established entities. For example, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) already hosts a specialized committee dedicated to Neurotechnologies for Brain-Machine Interfacing, and private companies like Elon Musk’s Neuralink are also conducting advanced BCI experiments.

Should China’s BCI standards be adopted internationally, it could lead to substantial market advantages for its domestic manufacturers, reinforcing Beijing’s position in global technology leadership.

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