Researchers have demonstrated the first 3D control of a robotic arm from electrodes implanted directly in the brain. This technology has been tested before in monkeys but this is the first time the technology has been successfully trialled in humans. Until now, human brain computer interfaces (BCI) have been limited to two dimensions. This is clearly a huge step forward for BCI technology however it will likely be a very long time before we see this technology affecting our lives. Methods which do not require electrodes to be attached directly to the brain have to use much weaker signals as the brain waves must travel through the skull and the tissue above the brain. Due to the cost of invasive brain procedures and the associated risks, it is therefore unlikely that this method will be used for anything but the most extreme cases of paralysis.
Hochberg, L., Bacher, D., Jarosiewicz, B., Masse, N., Simeral, J., Vogel, J., Haddadin, S., Liu, J., Cash, S., van der Smagt, P., & Donoghue, J. (2012). Reach and grasp by people with tetraplegia using a neurally controlled robotic arm Nature, 485 (7398), 372-375 DOI: 10.1038/nature11076
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