While Honda is taking a benign and non-invasive approach to the coveted brain-machine interface, British researchers are experimenting with a sensor array that is actually implanted in the brain. Dr. Jon Spratley’s “multi-contact brain probe” is designed to be injected into the tissue of the brain with a fine needle, where it will sit, monitoring electrical impulses across the brain’s motor cortex and relaying them wirelessly to an external device. Spratley believes the technology could unlock a range of bionic possibilities for quadriplegics, who could, for example, learn to control a wheelchair or computer mouse using the same brain commands that used to operate their arms and legs.
For those of us will full use of our arms and legs, it’s difficult to imagine what it must be like to be paralyzed from the neck down. Aside from the complete lack of sensation, your brain is still able to make the same commands that used to move your limbs – but nothing happens.
Several research teams around the world are looking at ways to harness these brain signals and use them to operate machinery that can help quadriplegics interact physically with the world around them. The idea of a functioning brain-machine interface would open up a range of much quicker, much more convenient interactions with computers, for example, and if the technology became refined enough it might even be able to operate robotic limbs, vehicles, and all sorts of household devices.
One research program showing promise is the PhD thesis of Dr. Jon Spratley, recently of Birmingham University and now working for Cambridgeshire’s 42 Technology. As part of his Doctoral thesis, Spratley built a prototype of a multi-contact brain probe that sits inside the skull, in contact with the brain.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Braingate2: Your Mind Just Went Wireless (singularityhub.com)
- Turn on the TV Using the Power of Thought (neatorama.com)
- Scientists get first close look at stimulated brain (scienceblog.com)
- Toyota Mind-Reading Wheelchair (ubergizmo.com)
- Researchers expand clinical study of brain implant (boingboing.net)
- Brain Carpet microelectrodes could help translate thoughts into actions more effectively (engadget.com)