Feeds

Quadriplegic controls PC by mind power alone

BrainGate

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A US company has carried out trials on a brain implant which offers quadriplegics the possibility of controlling a computer by mind-power alone. Although the first volunteer to use the Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems' BrainGate has so far been able only to move an on-screen cursor, play the game Pong and transmit simple instructions to a robotic arm, the developers hope that in the future, paralysis will not be an obstacle to surfing the web, sending email and generally enjoying the PC experience.

The Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems' blurb explains:

The BrainGate™ System is based on Cyberkinetics' platform technology to sense, transmit, analyze and apply the language of neurons. The System consists of a sensor that is implanted on the motor cortex of the brain and a device that analyzes brain signals. The principle of operation behind the BrainGate™ System is that with intact brain function, brain signals are generated even though they are not sent to the arms, hands and legs. The signals are interpreted and translated into cursor movements, offering the user an alternate "BrainGate™ pathway" to control a computer with thought, just as individuals who have the ability to move their hands use a mouse.

In practical terms, a surgeon drills a hole in the subject's skull and places a small implant containing 100 electrode sensors directly on the brain surface. The first volunteer to undergo the BrainGate procedure was Matt Nagle of Boston - a knife attack victim paralysed for over three years. He subsequently said of the robotic arm experience: "I was using my thoughts. When I wanted it to go left, it would go left, and, when I wanted it to go right, it would go right," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Following this success, the Food and Drug Administration has authorised Cyberkinetics to try out the system on four further volunteers. Cyberkinetics founder, Nicholas Hatsopoulos, admitted that the surgical procedure carried some risk of infection or brain damage, and praised the volunteers thus: "We're doing it in the safest and best way we know how. These people who participate deserve a lot of credit. They're pioneers."

Cyberkinetics hopes that - all being well - it will have FDA approval to market BrainGate by 2007. ®

Related stories

EU fusses over cyberhumans
Brain scans show difference between truth and lies
Monkey mindpower manipulates robotic arm

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?