BrainGate is an experimental program now in its clinical trial phase. If it lives up to what its developers think it could be, the results will be pretty remarkable.
From the BrainGate website:
"Using a baby aspirin-sized array of electrodes implanted into the brain, early research from the BrainGate team has shown that the neural signals associated with the intent to move a limb can be 'decoded' by a computer in real-time and used to operate external devices."
In even simpler terms: brain signals could be translated into actual controllable objects outside the body without any other major muscle group getting involved.
We speak with Dr. Leigh Hochberg about the history of this research, the breakthroughs they've had in clinical trials, and the possible applications going forward. Dr. Hochberg envisions harnessing these electrical signals from the brain, feeding them out to an external device, and then running that device back through the body. If it works, a person who didn't have use of their arm before could pick up a coffee cup.
The research is sponsored by Providence VA Medical Center, Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Also in this program, we learn about two new Gmail features from Google: Don't Forget Bob and Got the Wrong Bob. Why does Bob get all the special treatment?