It sounds like a bad joke; doctors have figured out a method of connecting a tablet directly to your brain. No, it’s not so Facebook games can send those annoying notifications they keep re-enabling straight to your noggin. It’s so ALS sufferers and the paralyzed can use the internet and interact with others.
Why a tablet? The touchscreen. If you’ve ever seen a medical drama, you’re probably familiar with systems where a “locked-in” person can, with the help of a device reading their brainwaves, move a cursor on a computer screen. It’s a surprisingly effective system and can be used for far more than spelling out words, but it’s also exhausting. Roll your eyes around for a few minutes and you’ll see what we mean.
The BrainGate research team was trying to develop a better system when they realized they could use the same idea to create “taps” on a touchscreen. So, they reconfigured the system, which was surprisingly easy; they just connected the neural implant using Bluetooth and configured some custom software. It was up and running in less than a year, and the patient was googling away.
There’s still a lot of research to be done, but this substantially drives down the cost of these systems, and opens it up to patients who may not be able to afford the more expensive, clunkier systems. And, of course, it paves the way for hacky jokes about how your smartphone is replacing your brain, which is equally important.
(Via Singularity Hub)