An engineer out of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore named Dr Arindan Basu has developed a smart chip that is able to measure brain signals. The chip was created for tetraplegics. These are people who have lost the use of most or all of their limbs due to illness or injury.
"Patients who are tetraplegic cannot move their arms or legs but their brain is still actively thinking about moving them. I wanted to make a smart chip that would recognise that thought and translate it into action," Basu said.
Basu and a team of researchers received donations from investors to go ahead with the chip. Dr. Basu has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Explaining how the chip works, Basu spoke to media, saying, "Think of it as Bluetooth. The chip recognises the thought signals that the brain is making and the thought of action gets sent to the prosthetic arm or leg, enabling the movement." The chip decodes what the brain is thinking and then sends the commands to the prosthetics.
"What we have developed is a very versatile smart chip that can process data, analyse patterns and spot the difference," Basu said, adding that the tests on animals had resulted in 95% accuracy of decoding brain waves.
TheEngineer.co.uk had their own ideas of what else the chip could be used for:
The device could also be useful for non-medical applications, such as Internet of Things-enabled devices. For example, the chip can be programmed to send a video back to the servers only when a specific type of car or something out of the ordinary is detected, such as an intruder. With an increasing number of devices, in factories, for example, sending and recieving large amounts of data, this will assist significantly in keeping network traffic down to manageable levels.
The 128-Channel Extreme Learning Machine-Based Neural Decoder for Brain Machine Interfaces reading/journal can be purchased for further reading.