Codebreaker

Heck yeah robot arms!

Marc Sanchez May 17, 2012

A new report from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs tells of two successful tests, where people paralyzed from the neck down were able to move a robotic arm using only their mind juice. From the New York Times: “The report, released online by the journal Nature, is the first published demonstration that humans with severe brain injuries can effectively control a prosthetic arm, using tiny brain implants that transmit neural signals to a computer.” The participants, were paralyzed due to strokes over a decade ago, underwent surgery to have sensors, about the size of a aspirin, implanted in their brains.
The sensor — a chip of silicon with 96 pinprick electrodes connecting to a patch of neurons — transmitted those neurons’ firing patterns from this imaginary movement to a computer, through a wire. The computer recorded the patterns, then translated them into an electronic command: Move left, now down, now right.
And there’s a learning curve just to get the sensor to communicate with and navigate the robotic arm.If you’ve never wept while watching somebody drink coffee, now’s your chance.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.