Neuroengineers at Brown University have developed a “a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor” that has the potential application of helping people with paralysis control a computer or similar device with their thoughts.
The low-powered sensor, which runs on just 100 milliwatts of power, is capable of transferring data from up to 100 neurons in “freely-moving subjects” via broadband wireless. The effect is described by professor of engineering Arto Nurmikko as “somewhat akin to a cell phone, except the conversation that is being sent out is the brain talking wirelessly.”
The device has been successfully used to record and analyse neural information in primates but it isn’t capable of much more beyond that at the moment. The end goal for this brain-computer interface (BCI), which is able to charge via induction, is to use a version of it as a wireless brain implant that will one day assist those with mobility problems by translating neural data into responses on an electrical device.
The current iteration will not be used in human trials but the Brown University team is working on making it transmit even more neurological data while reducing its size and enhancing its reliability and safety.