Brain-powered gadget sales to top $200M in 2020
by Mike Wheatley | Jul 28, 2015
The Brain-to-Machine (BMI) product niche has been a little obscured by more well known concepts like the Internet of Things and software-defined this and that, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a second glance. For according to new findings from ABI Research (Allied Business Intelligence, Inc.), the market could be worth $200 million a year by 2020.
Things are expected to pick up in earnest later this year, with a flood of new products likely to be released in time for the Christmas shopping season, ABI Research predicts. According to them, “tapping into brain activity as a means of understanding human behavior, or controlling an external activity, is now possible”, and the most likely application of that will be video games.
Jeff Orr, ABI’s research director, said in a statement that the combination of BMI headgear with augmented reality and eye-tracking hardware will “give elite players the upper-hand in real-time multiplayer gaming.” Nevertheless, he says that helmets equipped with brain electrodes are unlikely to appear on the shop shelves any time soon, due to the difficulties of precisely fitting this kind of equipment.
There are numerous ‘brain-powered’ toys already on sale though. For example, the Star Wars Force Trainer has been on sale for six years already, even though it only involves lifting a ping pong ball using brain power alone.
A better application of BMI technology might be in the medical field, where such gadgets are also called Brain-to-Computer Interfaces (BCI). ABI notes that clinical trials involving BMI technology are grabbing the news headlines right, left and center, with the tech leading to some interesting possibilities in areas like robot prosthetics, mobility controls and communications gear for those with disabilities.
With both gaming and medical technology both set to benefit from BMI, that leads ABI Research to suspect substantial growth in the market. The research outfit says it’ll be worth $9.7 million this year with around 20,000 devices sold in total. But by 2020, that figure will leap to 850,000 BMI gadgets sold, totalling some $205 million in sales. The biggest market will be in Japan, thanks to its “advanced medical research community and savvy consumer technology buyers,” ABI said.
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