Imagine this, a wheelchair bound patient controls a robotic arm without uttering a word or pushing a button. Yet, the robotic arm moves and does their bidding. How? The patient is controlling the robot with their thoughts. Sounds like science fiction right? But guess what? It's science fact - not fiction.
John Donoghue invented a technology beyond belief for a company called BrainGate. A real patient in a wheelchair had the BrainGate device implanted into their brain and hooked to a computer to which they sent mental commands that resulted in the machine doing what they wanted it to. The new technology is called BCI or brain-computer interface, and BrainGate is a major player in this new field. Illustration USPTO
And where is this technology heading? I think to one amazing place. This is what BrainGate has to say.
Advanced prosthetic devices are currently controlled with mechanical switches; however, we [BrainGate] believe that once perfected, implanted neural interfaces will provide a more natural control of these devices. Using brain signals to control movement should enable more real-time responses and allow for more complex use of these artificial limbs. BrainGate envisions a technology that bridges the gap between the brain and the limb. If the patient still has the ability to "think" about movement, BrainGate has the potential to interpret and re-connect those signals, thus allowing the patient to move those limbs simply by thinking about it.