If a new DARPA program pushes through, one can soon mind-control computers using fully implantable devices that can connect with up to a million neurons.
A new program of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), called Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), seeks to produce an advanced interface to link the human brain to a computer.
The program will attempt to produce a biocompatible implant, sized no more than a cubic centimeter, that is capable of translating electrochemical signals in the critical human organ into the recognized language of computers.
According to NESD program manager Phillip Alvelda, their mission is to update today’s brain-and-computer interfaces. “Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics,” he said in a press release.
Currently used and approved neural interfaces for humans relay great amounts of information through 100 channels, each of which aggregates tens of thousands of neural signals at once, leading to an imprecise, noise-ridden result, according to DARPA.
The NESD program, on the other hand, clears up and improves communication with up to 1 million neurons in a brain region.
DARPA researchers will create advanced mathematical methods in order to “transcode high-definition sensory information between electronic and cortical neuron representations,” and functionally and accurately represent those figures afterward.
The initiative is projected to enhance neurotechnology research and explore new related therapies. A device, for instance, could address sight or hearing deficiencies through feeding digital visual or auditory information to the brain at a quality and resolution higher than what is available at present.
The aspiration is also to offer breakthroughs in numerous fields apart from neuroscience, including photonics, electronics, synthetic biology, medical device manufacturing and clinical testing.
The NESD program is currently seeking partners to provide prototyping, manufacturing and other services. DARPA is hosting its Proposers Day meeting on Feb. 2 to 3 in Arlington, Virginia.