Despite being paraplegic, Eric G. Sorto was able to take a drink of beer with the help of Caltech’s robotic arm thanks to a chip implanted into his brain.
Even if it seems too futuristic, implant based silicon devices that receive their motor inputs directly from the body are becoming a thing of the present. Researchers are confident that this technology will not only pave the way for a new generation of prosthetics, but also make tasks like heavy lifting or paper sorting much more efficient.
Prosthetics aren’t the only place seeing rapid development though. Researches from Lausanne, Switzerland were able to “fix” broken spines in mice. Using a combination of a stretchable silicon ribbon and other gadgets to help transmit nerve impulses, mice were able to not only walk but also run and climb in a few months. The experiment was likened to fixing the broken connections of a telephone line.
Another exciting prospect is helping people paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors in Ohio used a chip that was implanted in a 22 year old man’s brain to read signals from the brain that were telling the tendons in his hand to move, replacing the spinal column with a computer. The experiment was a success, and served as a proof of concept for even more breakthroughs in the future.