It starts with a simple computer chip that is inserted and planted into the brain of a paralyzed person. The chip is stocked full of software and computer recognized algorithms that have been programmed to interpret neural waves and respond accordingly. The instructions are then sent to a robotic arm that interprets the commands and acts it out. In recent trials the brain-controlled robotic arm lifted and moved a glass of water into a paralyzed women’s reach so that she could sip from it, something she has been unable to do on her own for the past fifteen years.
Many tests of similar nature have been done on lab animals and have proven successful, however, this is the first time a lab trial with a human has resulted in success in real time space. Previously lab trials have been successful in computing thoughts into moving a computer cursor, however with this breakthrough all past achievements pale in comparison. However the company behind this amazing breakthrough, BrainGate, has advised it will be some time before this technology makes it outside the lab.
In the current design the computer sensor is attached to a mini-sized computer that is connected with a mess of wires. Making the system wireless is the team’s first long term goal. The research team hopes that within a decade the BrainGate device will be available for everyone with a disability at a price that will be affordable. They are also in the works of bringing this functionality to prosthetic limbs in the same time frame.