This is going to be a new wonder of neurotechnology: DARPA is developing an implantable neural interface with an unprecedented signal resolution and data-transfer bandwidth so that the human brain can communicate with computers and other digital gadgets. The interface, according to this DARPA update, will serve as a translator, converting between electromechanical language used by neurons in the human brain into 0s and 1s language of the information technology products. This biocompatible device will be no larger than one cubic centimetre in size.
The program, called Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), will not only enhance research capabilities in neurotechnology, it may also help people with speech impairments express themselves; because if thoughts can be converted into commands, they can one day also be converted into words and sentences. So who knows? One day computers will be able to speak what you are thinking.
“Today’s best-brain computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem,” says Philip Alvelda, the NESD program manager. “Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”
As mentioned above, aside from the scientific and technological benefits of this program, other potential applications would be devices that can compensate for deficits in sight or hearing by feeding digital auditory or visual information into the brain at a resolution and experiential quality far higher than is possible with current technology.
At the basic level, when the implantable brain-machine interface (BMI) is put into operation, it will allow its users to control computers with their thoughts. It will convert the chemical signals generated by our neurons into digital data.