The Tesla smartphone has been making headlines, but its CEO, Elon Musk, has already hinted at something much bigger. For a company that sells phone accessories, one might assume that developing a smartphone is next on Tesla’s agenda. That’s exactly what many rumors said about Tesla’s upcoming smartphone, dubbed the “Pi Phone” (via Yahoo). A YouTube video concept demonstrates how this phone can connect to the internet via Starlink, navigate a Tesla, and even be controlled by the user’s thoughts.
In addition, the phone is said to have night-vision cameras, solar charging, and crypto-mining capabilities. If all of this sounds too good to be true, it is; the “Tesla Model Pi” phone was created from unofficial renders created by ADR Studio Design. Although the Tesla phone was rumored to have a 2022 release date, the source stated that most of these claims were likely based on “unofficial mockups” and baseless rumors that circulated on YouTube and Twitter. So, does this mean that hopes for a Tesla smartphone will never be realized?
Tesla phones are so last year
Nobody knows for certain if Tesla will ever consider producing smartphones, but Musk did address the issue. Musk stated in a tweet that Tesla is “definitely not” developing any type of smartphone, even referring to them as “yesterday’s technology.” Instead of focusing on legacy hardware such as phones, Musk did mention Neuralink, which he considers to be “the future.” Some may wonder how Neuralink, Musk’s company that develops advanced Brain Machine Interfaces (BMIs), can be compared to something as mundane as smartphones. Let’s just say Musk has big plans for these BMIs, which can be implanted in people’s brains and allow them to control computers with their minds.
The application of the Tesla Phone concept, as shown above, can easily translate to mind-controlled smartphones, but with a greater emphasis on hardware that bridges the gap between people and their devices rather than the device itself. While this may seem too futuristic or far-fetched for some, Neuralink has already provided a glimpse of what it’s like to play games using these BMIs. Neuralink demonstrated a monkey playing “MindPong” with nothing but his mind in a YouTube video. The game is interacted with simply by “imagining hand movements.” This method resulted in a more precise performance, with the monkey hitting the ball at random. Needless to say, users will not be making excuses for faulty controllers.
Don’t bank on mind-controlled smartphones just yet
Physical hardware interfaces have always been a barrier to humans interacting more accurately with their devices. However, BMIs have the potential to unlock that limitation, making man literally one with the machine. While that is an intriguing idea for cyberpunk fans, it is still too early for widespread human application, let alone smartphone integration. Consumer-grade products rank lower on Neuralink’s long list of promising BMI applications than use in the medical field. In fact, helping quadriplegic people use computers will be the first priority for Neuralink.
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Musk claimed that Neuralink’s cutting-edge brain implants would soon be able to treat a wide range of medical conditions, from common memory loss to blindness and severe brain injuries. Of course, Neuralink still faces a slew of ethical and legal challenges before its goals can be realized, especially since its controversial experiments have medical experts fearing the worst. The question now is whether Neuralink’s BMIs will be used commercially, such as in smartphones, if medical applications prove successful. That is a possibility. After all, Neuralink already has at least $205 million in investor funding on the table (via Forbes). Just don’t expect it to happen anytime soon, at least not before we can all play some MindPong.