While I agree there’s little expert research into BCIs for VR, I see a lot of impressive current ongoing progress in neurology and brain imaging. Optogenitics – inserting genes to nerve cells to make them emit and/or fire in response to visible light – is a poster child field for such research. Quoting from this one of many articles lauding it,
Do more research and create the device before making the game. If you do a bit of research, you'll see that there are literally no progress in this field [BCI devices for fully immersive VR] as of now, making the rest pretty much unusable.
Optogenetics—whether described as a method, technology, application, or revolution—provides a new array of opportunities to explore the brain. “This field did not even exist when the current millennium began,” says Dr. Siegelbaum, “yet from a lowly product of nature we now have the underpinnings of a method that will provide a precise means of stimulating or inhibiting local brain regions, offering the hope of both a better understanding of neurological and psychiatric diseases, as well as, perhaps, novel treatments for these disorders.” Optogenetics is the illuminating power source of this new revolution in brain science.Research like this is, correctly, I think, focused mostly on learning fundamental neuroscience, not a particular application like treating brain disorders or making BCIs. It’s progressing fast, though. Like solid state electronics in the mid 20th century, I hope that once this knowledge reaches a “critical mass”, practically applications will com quickly.
I agree, though, that the best place for enthusiastic people to put their effort is in fundamental neuroscience, which for those of us that aren’t already in the field, starts best with a lot of general and specialized education. If the fictional world of SAO is science fiction rather than fantasy, we have to imagine that the critical mass of neuroscience knowledge was reached before the technologists () that designed the NerveGear could proceed.
This now more than 1 year old thread is titled “How Close Are We To The Game Of The Anime Sword Art Online And The Technology?”, though, and there’s more to achieving something like the game depicted in the SAO light novels, manga and anime than building a near perfect BCI. The game program depicted in these stories features computer-controlled characters (“AIs”) much more realistic than any existant now, easily able to pass the hardest Turing test. The fictional game is described as being almost entirely procedurally generated – the detailed design of its virtual world, not just scenery and characters, but themes and plots – are not created by humans, but by computer programs, far better than any present day program.
These features would be revolutionary in present day, non-VR video games. These programming challenges can be worked on now, without waiting for enablement from fundamental science, and arguably address more profound questions than VR or neurological ones.
The outline: We've written to the brain. Enough said.
I agree. Accuracy, or spatial resolution, is the key show-stopper problem in building a BCI like the fictional NerveGear.
I am well aware that we're able to write to the brain, we're even able to write non-invasively: http://journals.plos...al.pone.0060410
This sounds great and all, but it's waay too inaccurate, which renders it pretty much useless until we get advancements allowing us to do it with much more accuracy.
My guess is the solution to this problem is to densely infiltrate the brain with nanoscopic insulated conductive electrodes which so undetectable that users would consider them non-intrusive (see this and this post). Because fundamental optical (which also apply to radio-frequency EM radiation) and electrical principles limit the spatial resolution of any wireless approach, I don’t think a such an approach can work. A very exotic approach – for wild example, imaging and effecting individual atoms with neutral particle beams – might, but is, I think, a more difficult and less likely to succeed approach than a nanotechnological one.