Chinese researchers say they have made it possible for humans to beam 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 laboratory experiment, researchers showed that brainwaves could control and interact with electromagnetic waves remotely. “Our design provides users with a universal way to manipulate electromagnetic waves using brainwaves,” said Professor Wang Jiafu, leading project scientist with Air Force Engineering University in northwestern Shaanxi province, in a paper published in peer-reviewed journal eLight on June 11. Different users could use the new technology in innovative ways, according to the researchers. For instance, fighter jet pilots could direct radar beams “at will” through brain surveillance devices in their helmets. The technology could also be used to prevent car accidents by monitoring fatigue in drivers through a smart radio receiver that can detect changes in brainwaves. For over a century, useful electromagnetic signals could only be produced by tapping in Morse code or writing commands on a computer. This process was slow and inefficient because it required lots of physical movement by operators, according to Wang. His team was inspired by the recent emergence of metamaterial, a programmable material that can generate or manipulate radio waves. China’s latest brainwave? Controlling space robots using mind power Extremely thin metamaterials can create a “metasurface” over an object, turning almost anything into a radio transmitter. Wang and colleagues suspected that a metasurface could serve as a bridge to connect brainwaves and radio waves. In their experiment, the researchers used a wearable device to detect brainwaves through commercially available technology known as a brain-computer interface. They then passed the brain signal to the metasurface through wireless Bluetooth technology. However, radio and brainwaves are like different “languages”, so Wang’s team programmed the metasurface to translate the brainwaves into radio signals almost instantly. Past studies on metasurfaces used a wired connection to the signal source, according to Wang’s team. The experiment was the first time a metasurface had been 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. From brain to screen: brain-computer interface gets better The Post contacted Wang’s team but the researchers declined an interview because they work for the military. According to another paper published in eLight on June 11, a research team led by professor Cui Tiejun with Southeast University in the eastern city of Nanjing established brain-to-brain communication between two volunteers using a similar technology. The metasurface programmed by Cui’s team sent a message from one person to another by converting brain signals into radio waves.