DARPA Contributes US$65m Toward Development of Next-level Brain Implants

The US military focuses  a lot of its attention on a new brand of technology. Brain implants have always been of keen interest to military organizations all around the world. However, the goal is not to make super soldiers, but rather to treat blindness and deafness. This is an incredibly noble cause and will help improve the quality of life for both veterans and civilians alike.

US Military Banks on Brain Implants

For several decades now, scientists have been looking for ways to bridge the gap between humans and machines. So far, those efforts have been in vain with no real progress. However, brain implants could prove to be The Holy Grail of bio-mechanical science. These devices have the capacity to do just about anything related to the body, including treating blindness and deafness.

By using a high-functioning implant, it essentially becomes possible to link computers with human brains. The computer is a microprocessor embedded in the implant itself. This vehicle can be used to collect sensory information which would be picked up by our eyes and eyes otherwise. Feeding that information back to the brain will give people a sense of sight or hearing, but it may not entirely replicate the actual sensation.

DARPA announced they have distributed contracts do five research organizations to focus on high-functioning implant research. This venture is worth $65 million in total and should help revolutionize treatment of people who have lost one or multiple sense. It is a very noble gesture by DARPA, considering a lot of what they produce ends up in the battlefield. Military applications of this technology is not part of the agenda right now, but that could change in the future.

The project will be split into two different groups, one of which focuses on vision and the other works on speech and hearing. This program will run for four years, after which DARPA aims to have a working prototype to show the world. Even then, these may not necessarily be made commercially or medically available anytime soon.

Collecting sensory information and transmitting it to a small computer is already possible with current technology. Unfortunately, the process takes a lot of time, which makes the available solutions unsuited. DARPA is keen on making these new brain implants collect information from 1 million neurons in parallel. This is an ambitious goal, but is possible.

Bridging the gap between computers and the human brain is an intriguing area of research and development. Until the medical sector comes up with a way to regrow missing limbs or other parts of our body providing the brain with sensory input, a brain implant appears to be the right way to go.