As scientists and experts make use of the ever advancing technology, anything can be created. And this includes brain chips that might soon change the lives of some wheelchair users.
A wireless transmitter is being developed by researchers and engineers in Brown University. The university teamed up with a Utah-based company, Blackrock Microsystems, to create and commercialize a wireless brain chip that could greatly help people in the near future.
The wireless interface can be attached to an individual’s head or skull to which it will transmit thought commands gathered from an implant in the brain via a radio. This technology could practically enable paralyzed people to control computers, TVs, or even wheelchairs. But as of the moment, Blackrock Microsystems is working to seek clearance for this technology from the United States FDA so that the wireless device can be tested in people who are willing to volunteer for its development and improvement.
The mental remote control was developed by BrainGate, a privately held firm focused on the improvement and advancement of a neural interface system. The consortium was among the first to put implants in the cerebral cortex of paralyzed people. This is to show that electrical signals or nerve impulses emitted by neurons in that special part of the cerebrum or brain can be recorded, which can be processed and used to enable the individual steer or maneuver a wheelchair or direct a robotic body part, say an arm or leg.
The new brain-computer interface somehow operates the same but minus the bulky wirings and signal processors. The wireless interface processes brain data by using a device that is as a large as an automobile gas cap which is hooked to the skull and wired to electrical conductors or electrodes placed inside the brain. Inside the device are essential parts to make the wireless interface work, which include the following:
- special processor that is able to amplify the weak electrical impulses emitted by the neurons
- several circuits that convert or digitize brain data or information
- radio that transmits the converted thought commands to a receiver which is a few meters away
With this, the data collected is made available in the form of a control signal; say to change a channel on the television or move a cursor across the computer monitor. The device transmits information out of the cortex at 48 Mbps or megabits per second, which is as fast as an Internet connection at home.
As the scientists and engineers of Brown University and Blackrock Microsystems work and join forces as they continue their research and development for this wireless brain-computer interface, a bright future awaits wheelchair users who would find this technology useful. A major change in their lives could be possible with this tiny technology, and that brings hope to people with paralysis. This mental remote control is a technology that people will definitely look forward to.