Brain-computer interfaces may soon be commonplace.
The US military is looking at ways to turn soldiers in to cyborgs by building an implantable neural interface that can enable direct communication between a computer and the human brain.
The research, which falls under Obama’s BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), aims to greatly improve upon existing brain-computer interfaces which are far too slow and far too bulky to have practical military applications.
Being developed in conjunction with DARPA, the new interface will be a bio-compatible unit about one cubic centimeter in size that should enable the user to communicate with a computer using up to a million neurons at a time – that’s 1,000 times more than any existing system.
“Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem,” said project manager Phillip Alvelda.
“Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”
In addition to creating cyborg soldiers the technology could also prove valuable in other areas such as in medical science where it could help paralysis patients interact with computers.
It isn’t clear however exactly when a neural interface like this will become available as even DARPA has admitted that the project is only at the pre-planning stages due to the need for advancements in several key areas – in particular in the fields of neuroscience and synthetic biology.
It looks like we may have to wait a good few years yet before this one becomes a reality.