1 June 2023
BEIJING – China filed about 35% of global patents in related segments, leading the US and Japan
Brain-computer interface technology is becoming more than a hypothetical phenomenon in China, with some momentum in terms of research and development and applications, especially amid the country’s recent call to support the cutting-edge sector, officials and industry experts said during the Zhongguancun Forum , which ended on Tuesday.
They made the remarks after Zhao Zhiguo, chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said that brain-computer interface technology will be strongly supported as an important direction of development, and accelerated efforts will be made to explore more application scenarios for the technology.
“China has already formed a well-rounded industrial chain, including brain-computer interface technology and applications. Related applications have already been used in sectors such as medical care, education and entertainment,” Zhao said.
On Tuesday, a group of listed Chinese AI stocks rose on the brain-computer interface concept, with Innovative Medical Management Co Ltd and Jiangsu Apon Medical Technology Co Ltd rising 10 percent and 20 percent respectively.
“China’s brain-computer interface has developed really fast. In some niche sectors, China is on par with leading countries in the field,” said Zhao Jizong, a renowned neurosurgery expert and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Brain-computer interface is basically a technology that allows a person to control an external device using brain signals. With avant-garde applications such as helping people with disabilities, the technology has been a key technological battleground for global competition.
Zhao noted that the technology is currently used mainly in clinical trials to diagnose patients with impaired consciousness and to help patients with mobility impairments walk.
“Although there is a certain gap with the world’s most advanced brain-computer interface technologies, the potential of the country’s brain-computer interface market is huge,” Zhao added.
According to a report launched by the Brain-Computer Interface Industrial Alliance on Monday, China and the United States are important birthplaces and markets for brain-computer interface technology.
China has a leading edge in non-implantable acquisition and sensing technology of brain-computer interface. Patent applications in the segment in China rose to 35 percent of the global total in recent years, followed by 30 percent from the United States and 10 percent from Japan, the report said.
“It is noteworthy that the level of independent research and development of chips and electrodes, two critical components of brain-computer interface technology, is constantly improving in the country,” said Li Wenyu, secretary of the alliance.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s brain implant company Neuralink said last week that the US Food and Drug Administration had given the go-ahead for its first human clinical trial, just after the world’s first interventional brain-computer interface experiment in non-human primates, led by China’s Nankai University Professor Duan Feng’s team was terminated earlier this month.
Market research firm Strategic Market Research also pointed out that the brain-computer interface market will reach $5.34 billion by 2030 in terms of market value.
As brain-computer interface technology gradually develops, He Jianghong, a well-known expert in neurosurgery at Beijing Tiantan Hospital, pointed out that safety issues should be given special attention during the development of the technology.
“Pay attention to whether the device can be safely inserted and become compatible for a long time, and whether it will cause direct harm such as infections, bleeding or other problems to users,” He said.
“Also, once this technology is widely used, it will inevitably collect data such as a large number of human brain signals, thus involving privacy issues,” he added.
Thus, it is necessary for China and other countries to put ethical issues at the fore and take precautions so that the brain-computer interface industry can develop in a healthy way in the coming years, he added.
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