Kernel Brain Computer Interface and General BCI Technology Overview

Kernel Working on fNIRS

Kernel is building the next generation of brain measurement systems by leveraging the strengths of TD-fNIRS into products that offer the following benefits:

High-quality neural signal
Full-head coverage
Relatively low cost
Natural environments, stimuli, and interactions
Freedom of user motion

Kernal was founded in 2016 by Bryan Johnson.

Kernel has raised $107 million in funding.

Kernel Flow is based on lightweight headgear that allows for natural head motion, a wide variety of stimuli and peripherals, various natural environments, and user interaction.

Kernel will use this technology in combination and at scale. They plan to revolutionize the capture of high-quality neural signals for the study of the brain, and provide the densest, largest, richest data sets ever taken.

Overview of Non-Invasive Brain Computer Interface Technology

Milan Cvitkovic gives an overview of Brain Computer Interface technology.

? Milan Cvitkovic is a scientist, software engineer, and strategy lead at Convergent Research, non-profit backed by X-Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s foundation. Convergent Research launches large-scale, high-impact science projects. They aim to help fill a structural gap in today’s R&D system. they enable fundamental research that requires unusual levels of scale and coordination yet is not rapidly monetizable by industry.

Neurotech Education also gives an overview of brain-computer interfaces.

There are several non-invasive techniques used to study the brain, where EEG is the most common used because of the cost and hardware portability.

* EEG Electroencephalography
* MEG magnetoencephalography
* PET positron emission tomography
* fMRI functional magnetic resonance imaging
* fNIRS near-infrared spectroscopy

EEG provides the recording of electrical activity of the brain from the surface of the scalp. Electrodes are placed on the scalp to pickup the electrical current generated by the brain.

MEG measures the magnetic field caused by the currents in the brain, and it offers a better spatial resolution compared to EEG. Why? Because magnetic fields suffer far less than electric fields from the spatial blurring effect of the skull and intracerebral fluid.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear imaging technique used in medicine to observe different processes, such as blood flow, metabolism, neurotransmitters, happening in the body.

A small amount of radioactive material, called radiotracer, is injected in the bloodstream to reach the brain. In the case of the brain, the radiotracer get attached to the glucose and creates a radionuclide called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). The brain uses glucose and it will show different levels based on the level activity of the different regions. The images of the PET scan are multicolored, where areas with more activities are in warmer colors as yellow and red. PET scans of the brain are used often to detect illnesses as cancer or others.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) is a functional neuroimaging procedure using MRI technology that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. Cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases. fMRI has been developed in the 1990s. It is a non-invasive and safe technique, it doesn’t use radiation, it’s easy to use and it has excellent spatial and good temporal resolution.

Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIR or fNIRS), is the use of NIRS (near-infrared spectroscopy) for the purpose of functional neuroimaging. An optical technique to measure localized cortical brain activity. fNIRS measures the changes in blood flow as fMRI, but using a different technique, infrared light instead of a magnetic field.

EEG (electroencephalograph) and MEG (magnetoencephalography) have high temporal resolution, but a low spatial resolution. EEG also has a higher degree of mobility than MEG has. fNIRS readings are similar to an EEG. They have a high degree of mobility as well as temporal resolution, and they have low spatial resolution. PET scans and fMRIs are grouped together, however they are distinctly different from the other neuroimaging scans. They have a high degree of immobility, medium/high spatial resolution, and a low temporal resolution. All of these neuroimaging scans have important characteristics and are valuable, however they have distinct characteristics.

fNIRS is compatible with MRI, EEG, and MEG. fNIRS takes 10 samples per second, whiule EEG’s have 500 to 1000 samples per second. fNIRS spatial resolution is not as good as fMRI. fMRI can image subcortical brain regions, while fNIRS cannot analyze past the cortex, unable to capture any subcortical activation.

fNIRS devices are relatively small, lightweight, portable and wearable. They have the potential to be used in clinics, a global health situation, a natural environment, and as a health tracker. Psychiatric at-risk individuals in hospitals could benefit from neuromonitoring and neurorehabilitation that fNIRS can offer. There are fully wireless research grade fNIRS systems in the market.

4 thoughts on “Kernel Brain Computer Interface and General BCI Technology Overview”

  1. Anybody have any updates about Openwater’s status? I know they’re focused on medical applications for now, but it seems like the only thing currently in the running for two way communication without an implant.

  2. I understand the urge for completeness, but PET isn’t really in the running for a brain computer interface. It’s fine on an occasional basis, for diagnostics or research, but you can’t do it routinely without the radiation dosage mounting up.

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