“Duke University”:http://duke.edu, in conjunction with Japan Science and Technology Agency (“JST”:http://www.jst.go.jp/EN/) have developed a way to translate complex brain signals into slightly less complex computer outputs in order to control a robot. The science is a bit beyond me but it seems pretty simple at a basic level: Monkeys walking on a treadmill produce certain brain waves associated with walking which are measured and then transmitted to a pair of robotic legs that mimic the monkey’s motion. The truly spectacular part of this experiment happened when the experimenters turned off the monkeys treadmill but found a way to keep the monkey thinking about walking. The robot kept going!
What does this mean? Well, for now it might not mean much, but eventually it could mean that people who become paralysed might one day be able to bypass the spine and control prosthetic limbs straight from the brain. This same sort of remote control might also be used for remote control of robots in hazardous work environments or even robotic soldiers, the sky’s the limit.
To learn more, see Duke’s “medical news site”:http://www.dukemednews.org/news/article.php?id=10218 or watch their video below: