Braingate2: Your Mind Just Went Wireless
Are you ready to control the world with your mind? The possibility just got a little stronger. A few weeks ago, Singularity Hub highlighted some of the many accomplishments of Braingate, the neural interface hardware and software that allows you to control a computer mouse with your brain. Those scientists have just started the next round of clinical trials: Braingate2. If you, or someone you know is interested in learning more about participating in the trials, you can do so here.
For the rest of us, Braingate2 means one thing: one step closer to controlling the world with our minds. Right now, the Braingate neural interface is a wired connection running out of a metal nub embedded in the skull. The Braingate2 team, however, is developing a wireless interface. Sensors attached to the neurons in your brain would be implanted as with the original Braingate technology. Now, however, power, and control would be supplied by a radio frequency signal (RF) into the brain. Information would flow out via infrared (IR) laser. This RF in, IR out approach takes advantage of the permeability of your skull to certain frequencies that don't interfere with your brain's functions. It's already been tested on non-human primates with success.
But wait you say, receiving a radio signal in your skull and shooting a laser out of your brain is cool, but where's the hard science? Well, while the Braingate team is mucking around in your motor cortex, trying to pass signals on to computers, robotic wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs, they'll also be studying neuron behavior. As part of their research, Braingate2 hopes to explore how different diseases, emotions, and awareness levels (i.e. if you're asleep) affect the neuronal firing patterns. These guys are going into the brain to tinker with motor neurons, but they could learn a lot about the brain functions in general. I hope they pass that information on to the groups who are hoping to create computer simulations of the brain, like FACETS or Blue Brain.
In the end, I wish John Donoghue, Leigh Hochberg and the other researchers well with Braingate2. As we've said before, this technology not only has huge potential for those people who are literally trapped in their minds, it also promises a new mode of human-machine interaction for all of us someday. When we have braingates in our skulls allowing us to control computers, cars, and robots, the world will be a much cooler place. All it will take to get there is a little mind over matter.