Light Start – The Tech Inside You Edition

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Making a computer chip for keeping an eye on the human brain (and making it dissolve)

BioSensorOne of these days you could have a doctor-recommended chip in your brain. Or in another body part, watching over your recovery and sending information to a medical professional. Does that seem like a science fiction stretch? It’s not. These chips, called transient sensors, exist, though they haven’t been stuck inside human heads just yet. The sensors have found instead a home inside rats, as these are still early versions of the technology. They could be used for organs other than grey matter and the only real problem would be implanting them. These wireless additions (they connect to an external box mounted on the skin to send their data at the moment) dissolve inside the bodies they’re placed in, as do the wires used to connect them to the outside world. Currently they last a few days before the coating around them gives up but the researchers at Washington University School of Medicine are hoping to make these sensors last a few weeks at a time. Expect human testing to take place within the next five years.

Source: Nature via Ars Technica

Or we could just control computers with our minds using a more permanent brain fixture

DARPAHey, isn’t this the basis for The Matrix? The first one, not the philosophical messes that came afterwards. DARPA have come up with a human interface concept that could be used to link people and computers in a way that we’ve never experienced before. Called a Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), it would “…serve as a translator, converting between the electrochemical language used by neurons in the brain and the ones and zeros that constitute the language of information technology.” Or, to put it another way, let human thoughts and binary converse in real-time. It could even be used to compensate for hearing or sight impairments by feeding the brain sensory data directly. Um… we’ll take two. However, barring a massive leap in neural interface technology, we’re probably not going to the the likes of the NESD any time soon. Converting human thought to binary and vice versa is going to take some serious research and development time and DARPA’s project is only in the very early stages so far.

Source: DARPA

Controlling prosthetics using a muscle-sensing wearable 

And if you’re going to be feeding your brain computer data taken from a camera, it might be time to add a tech-controlled artificial limb to the equation. We’ve seen these before but we haven’t seen them controlled by a wearable gadget. There are usually a lot more wires and a bunch of surgery involved. Enter the Myo, a muscle-sensing wearable which is being used to mind-control prosthetics (more or less) without the need for invasive surgery. The video above features a demonstration of an artificial arm being controlled by two Myo bands and the power of thought. Along with a bunch of extra computer gear, admittedly. It’s not a perfect or even a commercially viable solution to missing limbs at the moment but it’s an indication of where we might be able to go in future. Would you ever replace your arm with something mechanical, by choice? You might have to think about that in the next couple of decades.

Source: Thalmic Labs

And Intel reminds us all that it’s inside everything else. We’re probably next

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwqGYSwlRVc

Intel have got themselves a new ad campaign, where they remind everyone just how wide their grasp actually is. Intel is generally though of as a computer company but when they also make components for the entertainment, motoring, space, medical and robotics industries (as well as a few more), you start to realise just how many objects surrounding us every day have some kind of computer processor in them. Based on what we’ve seen above, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the company’s Intel Inside slogan will be amended to read: Intel Inside You. We’re not as terrified by that prospect as we might have been just five years ago. Seriously, think about it. Human augmentation for cosmetic or practical purposes is coming, in addition to doing it out of necessity. It’s only a matter of time.

Source: Intel (YouTube)

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