In short, yes. Some may be familiar with Dr. Peter Scott-Morgan, a brilliant scientist with a PhD in robotics and an unwavering desire to live. When diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an incurable neurodegenerative disease that results in a progressive loss of muscle function, he decided to integrate and replace his failing body parts with machinery. Through a variety of surgeries, including the first ever “triple-ostomy” (8) and a laryngectomy, which allowed him to breathe without using muscle control, he became the first ever “Human Cyborg”. While this laryngectomy would prevent him from speaking naturally, Dr. Scott-Morgan recorded twenty thousand words to be used in a synthetic voice program, which would accompany an avatar able to show facial expressions when his own muscles would no longer allow. This incredible technology was controlled by an eye-tracking computer program that would allow him to control his movements and communicate through this avatar. While Scott-Morgan did eventually succumb to the progression of ALS, his legacy of unrelenting positivity and incredible ingenuity live on, providing a technological hope for future ALS or other “locked-in” patients (9).
While the story of Dr. Scott-Morgan is likely the most extreme example of a brain-computer interface, research efforts are still underway to provide independence to those experiencing paralysis and debilitating disabilities. Companies such as Emotiv and NeuroSky have already begun selling EEG- and ECG-based biosensory monitoring devices, which, while appearing to be excellent at capturing brain activity, predominantly highlight the products’ wide applications for brain monitoring. While some actual functionality of these portable EEG-measuring devices is mentioned, it appears that the consumer market is still waiting for a truly integrated brain-computer interface.