$65 million has been put into a new US military project around a brain chip that could connect us directly to computers and have many potential health benefits.
DARPA officials claim that this innovation could aid blindness, paralyzation and even bring the idea of super soldiers into life.
Brown University, Columbia University, The Seeing and Hearing Foundation, the John B. Pierce Laboratory, Paradromics Inc and the University of California, Berkeley are selected as the five multi-million dollar grant recipients for this program, known as the NESD program, which started at the beginning to the year.
Officials stated that the selected organizations have developed teams that will do the research and technological preparation needed for support of the sensory restoration therapies that might happen in the future.
Vision restoration has been given four teams, and hearing and speech got two teams focusing on them.
This project may potentially lead to a major advance in understanding vision, speech and hearing and their connection to neural system and eventually produce new ways of treating people with sensory problems.
Phillip Alvelda, the founding NESD Program Manager stated that this program is a step towards advancing neural devices to be used for therapeutic measures.
He added this will make a two-way communication with the brain possible, and will eventually lead to more understanding of the organ and its ways. Although, this will take some time due to the complexity of the brain itself.
In the first year, the program’s focus will be finding major breakthroughs in all aspects of the technology and neuroscience, proceeding to tests on animals and cultured cells.
The second year will require ongoing studies, as well as perfecting the technology itself, and possibly opening the option for human testing if the device proves safe.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be included in the research for a solution for the long-term safety and all the other aspects in order to evaluate possible uses of the new devices.
Their general goal is to produce a biocompatible device the size of two coins pressed together, that will vastly advance research potential in neurotechnology and allow a starting point for new therapies.
Current technology is slow and doesn’t allow much, which is why Alvelda is excited for what may come with the upgraded tools and the connection between the brain and the modern devices.
They would fill the deficits in senses by putting digital info directly into the brain, significantly more advanced than the technology that we work with today. The current one is imperfect, loud and inaccurate.