Short Bytes: As a part of DARPA’s programs to support President Obama’s brain initiative, this advanced research organization has announced a new program called Neural Engineering System Design (NESD). This program aims to create a new computer-brain interface (‘biocompatible’ device) that will support data transfer at super fast speed.
A blog post dubbed as Bridging the Bio-electronic Divide explains the DARPA ambitions to form a ‘biocompatible’ device that will convert the electrochemical language of the brain into the binary code.
This program is being called Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) by the agency. The blog post mentions that current brain-computer interfaces aren’t fast enough for disruptive neurological applications. For example, to restore the vision of a person, it would need high-speed data transfer from a camera to the brain by converting visual data directly into binary code.
“Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem,” said Phillip Alvelda, the NESD program manager. “Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”
Uses of DARPA’s in-development computer-brain interface
As mentioned above, the research agency wishes to develop the technology and bring immediate medical benefits. The proposed technology is said to connect about a million neurons and it could easily treat visual and hearing impairments. It could also boost the physical capabilities of the prosthetics used by physically challenged people.
However, to make this a reality, it would need an immense amount of dedicated collaboration of multiple disciplines and “integrated breakthroughs across numerous disciplines including neuroscience, synthetic biology, low-power electronics, photonics, medical device packaging and manufacturing, systems engineering, and clinical testing.”
This program is a part of the programs within DARPA that support President Obama’s brain initiative.
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