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Wireless brain-computer interface streams thought commands with the speed of an Internet connection

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Following more than a decade of engineering work, a wireless brain-computer interface could finally give paralyzed people the ability to control everyday devices like TVs, computers, or wheelchairs with their thoughts. The mental remote control, developed by BrainGate, will be tested in volunteers possibly within a year.According to a recent post on MTI Technology Review, researchers at Brown University and a company callled Blackrock Microsystems, have commercialized a wireless device that can be attached to a person’s skull and transmit thought commands collected from a brain implant. The researchers say that the wireless BCI is able to stream thought commands via its radio at a rate of 48 megabits per second, about the speed of a home Internet connection. The amount of data transmitted daily by the device equals about the amount of data stored on 200 DVDs.

Blackrock is already selling the wireless processor to research labs under the product name “Cereplex-W”, for about $15,000. The small interface can be attached to the skull and wired to electrodes inside the brain. The processor inside the device amplifies the electrical signals emitted by neurons, then translates the information into digital codes, and the built-in radio beams this info to the receiver placed within a few meters. From this point the original thought command becomes available as a control signal for computers.

The device was developed by the BrainGate consortium, based at Brown University. BrainGate was among the first to place implants in the brains of paralyzed people and show that electrical signals emitted by neurons inside the cortex could be recorded, then used to steer a wheelchair or direct a robotic arm. The BrainGate team also won the $1-million B.R.A.I.N. Prize at BrainTech Israel 2013.

According to Florian Solzbacher, president of Blackrock and professor at University of Utah, human tests of the wireless BCI could happen soon.

Source and more on this story: technologyreview.com