Wireless Brain-Computer Interface

The first entirely wireless and implantable brain-to-computer interface (BCI) has been created by researchers at Brown University. The wireless BCIs have been implanted in pigs and monkeys for thirteen months without problems.


(Monkey has wireless BCI implanted)

Brown’s wireless BCI, fashioned out of hermetically sealed titanium, looks a lot like a pacemaker. (See: Brain pacemaker helps treat Alzheimer’s disease.) Inside there’s a li-ion battery, an inductive (wireless) charging loop, a chip that digitizes the signals from your brain, and an antenna for transmitting those neural spikes to a nearby computer. The BCI is connected to a small chip with 100 electrodes protruding from it, which, in this study, was embedded in the somatosensory cortex or motor cortex. These 100 electrodes produce a lot of data, which the BCI transmits at 24Mbps over the 3.2 and 3.8GHz bands to a receiver that is one meter away. The BCI’s battery takes two hours to charge via wireless inductive charging, and then has enough juice to last for six hours of use.

One of the features that the Brown researchers seem most excited about is the device’s power consumption, which is just 100 milliwatts.

Next stop - approval for use in humans.

The first time that I can remember of a really explicit use of this idea is the communications implant from Pournelle and Niven's Oath of Fealty:

"I used my implant to tell MILLIE [a mainframe computer] what we wanted and she took care of it," Art said.

"I see," Sir George's eyes focused on nothing for a moment.

Art said "Mac, have they made any progress on swinging an implant for you?"

"Think the city's got an extra million bucks?"

Sir George said sympathetically "Very useful gadget, but you can communicate with a computer about as well with a good briefcase console." Reed and Bonner looked knowingly at each other. It was a look that sighted men might give each other in the presence of the blind.

Via Extreme Tech and An implantable wireless neural interface for recording cortical circuit dynamics in moving primates.

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