DARPA: Three aircraft virtually controlled with brain chip

Building on 2015 research that enabled a paralyzed person to virtually control an F-35 jet, DARPA’s Justin Sanchez has announced that the brain can be used to command and control three types of aircraft simultaneously.

Click to view Justin Sanchez’s talk at ApplySci’s 2018 conference at Stanford University

Join ApplySci at the 9th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on September 24, 2018 at the MIT Media Lab.  Speakers include:  Rudy Tanzi – Mary Lou Jepsen – George ChurchRoz PicardNathan IntratorKeith JohnsonJohn MattisonRoozbeh GhaffariPoppy Crum – Phillip Alvelda Marom Bikson – Ed Simcox – Sean Lane

DARPA neural implant to enhance brain-computer connections

DARPA is leading the development of an improved  neural implant for connecting the brain to computers, using advances neuroscience, synthetic biology, low-power electronics, photonics and medical manufacturing.  Their goal is to to dramatically enhance  neurotechnology research capabilities and provide a foundation for new therapies.

The Neural Engineering System Design program aims to produce a miniaturized brain implant, smaller than one cubic centimeter in size, to improve data transfer. The  device would  translate between digital systems and the electrochemical “language” of the brain for more efficient communication.

NESD  is part of the BRAIN initiative and is led by Phillip Alvelda, who is “upgrading tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”

Current neural interfaces  use approximately 100 channels, each  aggregating signals from tens of thousands of neurons. The NESD program aims to develop technology to communicate directly with  one million individual neurons in a brain region.

Initial applications will include devices for those with sight or hearing impairments.  The system could feed digital auditory or visual information to the brain with  greater resolution and clarity than current technology.

Phillip Alveda will discuss this and other DARPA initiatives  at ApplySci’s NeuroTech San Francisco conference on April 6th.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences


Implant could direct images to visual cortex, restore sight

DARPA is in the early stages of developing a “cortical modem” which would enable a simple visual display via a direct interface to the visual cortex.  Its projected cost is 10 US Dollars.

The project lead is Dr Phillip Alvelda.  It was built on Karl Deisseroth‘s optogenetics research — studying and controlling specified cells within living tissue by shining light on them.

While exciting, the realization of the technology is far off, having only been tested on animals.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences

Nerve and muscle interfaces for prosthetic control


DARPA continues to build technology with academic partners to enable amputees to control prosthetic limbs with their minds.  Examples follow:

Researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago demonstrated a type of peripheral interface called targeted muscle re-innervation (TMR). By rewiring nerves from amputated limbs, new interfaces allow for prosthetic control with existing muscles.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University used a flat interface nerve electrode (FINE) to demonstrate direct sensory feedback. By interfacing with residual nerves in the patient’s partial limb, some sense of touch by the fingers is restored. Other existing prosthetic limb control systems rely solely on visual feedback. Unlike visual feedback, direct sensory feedback allows patients to move a hand without keeping their eyes on it—enabling simple tasks, like searching a bag for small items, not possible with today’s prosthetics.