Chinese researchers claim to have enabled humans to transmit radio waves with their brains in a breakthrough that could have uses ranging from health monitoring to mind-controlled military radar.
In an Air Force lab experiment, researchers showed that brain waves can control and interact with electromagnetic waves from a distance.
“Our design provides users with a universal way to manipulate electromagnetic waves using brain waves,” said Professor Wang Jiafu, senior project scientist at Air Force Engineering University in northwestern Shaanxi province. , in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal eLight on June 11.
According to the researchers, different users could use the new technology in innovative ways.
For example, fighter pilots could direct radar beams “at will” through brain monitoring devices in their helmets.
The technology could also be used to prevent car crashes by monitoring driver fatigue through a smart radio receiver that can detect changes in brain waves.
For more than a century, useful electromagnetic signals could only be produced by typing in Morse code or writing commands on a computer. This process was slow and inefficient because it required a lot of physical movement from the operators, according to Wang.
His team was inspired by the recent emergence of metamaterial, a programmable material capable of generating or manipulating radio waves.
Extremely thin metamaterials can create a “metasurface” on an object, turning almost anything into a radio transmitter. Wang and his colleagues suspected that a metasurface could serve as a bridge to connect brain waves and radio waves.
In their experiment, the researchers used a wearable device to detect brain waves using a commercially available technology known as brain-computer interface.
They then transmitted the brain signal to the metasurface using Bluetooth wireless technology.
However, radio and brainwaves are like different “languages”. Wang’s team therefore programmed the metasurface to translate brain waves into radio signals almost instantaneously.
According to Wang’s team, previous studies of metasurfaces used a wired connection to the signal source.
The experiment was the first time a metasurface was directly controlled by a user’s brainwaves, they said.
The technology could be extended to other mind-controlled metasurfaces and used in health monitoring, 5G/6G communications, and smart sensors.
The Post contacted Wang’s team, but the researchers declined an interview because they work for the military.
According to another article published in eLight on June 11, a research team led by Professor Cui Tiejun from Southeast University in the eastern city of Nanjing established brain-to-brain communication between two volunteers using similar technology. .
The metasurface programmed by Cui’s team sent a message from one person to another by converting brain signals into radio waves.
This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post.