Aivoimplantit sekä muut sellaiset



Super strong mechanical appendages and brain implants are common fixtures of a science-fictional future. More and more, American veterans are arriving at that future before the rest of us. As a result of military-funded programs, vets are becoming the research platform for cybernetic technologies that are decades beyond commercial state of the art and that could one day elevate humanity beyond its natural biological limitations.


Visions of humans running around in exoskeletons able to move faster, jump higher and hit harder from films such as Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow are no longer science fiction but a hidden reality right now.

What started out as a military application helping soldiers carry large loads has spawned into applications in medicine, rehabilitation, construction and in the near future, possibly even sports.

“We see the world of robotics as having a giant wave of human augmentation coming right at it,” said Nate Harding chief executive and co-founder of Ekso Bionics at CES in Las Vegas. “People will be running faster, jumping further and grannies will be showing off their new hip exoskeleton.”

‘It’s about wrapping a robot around a person’

Harding was speaking at a conference session discussing the future of robotics and brought with him a working exoskeleton that allowed a paraplegic man confined to a wheelchair, 22-year-old Shane Mosko from Connecticut, to simply stand up and walk stunning a hushed audience.

“It’s about wrapping a robot around a person,” explained Harding. “In the case of Shane, he’s able to get up and walk without assistance. We know it will have a very positive affect the long term health of people who are stuck in wheel chairs.”

The exoskeleton ran down Mosko’s legs to feet plates, powered by a small backpack and controlled partially through two walking sticks that were used to aid balance.

“I’ve been using this device for about two years, and it didn’t take long to get to where I can walk,” explained Mosko while walking backwards and forwards across the stage. “I’m paralysed and I’m not supposed to be up and walking, but being at eye level with you all. With this device it’s a possibility.”

“With this device I can really work on building strength where I have it. I can basically walk as long as the batteries will allow, which is not possible with some of the other fixed knee solutions. This is only the beginning and there’s so much further we can go. It can only get better.”

‘In five years you’ll see exoskeletons on the building site’

The exoskeleton has been designed to help paraplegics gain mobility but also to help stroke victims learn how to walk again. It is controlled by buttons on a set of walking sticks, but also with the weight of the wearer.

Leaning forward in a natural walking stances while rocking side to side triggers the steps in a very human-like non-robotic way. The exoskeleton detects how much power a person is putting in and fills the shortfall to maintain stability, but also to help people build their strength where they have it.

“Our technology started in the military, carrying heavy loads and with our partners Lockheed Martin we’re still doing that. But we melded technologies from people for athletics and people with paralysis to aid people with stroke to walk again,” said Harding.

“Now we’re looking at industrial applications – for construction crews holding heavy tools or working on overhead surfaces. That’s our next stage to attack. In five years you’ll see exoskeletons on the building site and on the medical side, someone with paralysis will be using one to get around a party.”

Laitoin sen tähän koska uskon, että exoskeleton teknologia rupeaa hiljalleen siirtymään amputotaatissa poistettujen jäsenten tilalle, missä implantti sisältää koneiston sekä virtalähteen antamaan voimaa koneistolle joka on suunniteltu korvaamaan taikka parantamaan implantilla korvatun jäsenen toimintaa.


Eilen exoskelton, tänään implantti korvaa saman vian.

The mechanical mismatch between soft neural tissues and stiff neural implants hinders the long-term performance of implantable neuroprostheses. Here, we designed and fabricated soft neural implants with the shape and elasticity of dura mater, the protective membrane of the brain and spinal cord. The electronic dura mater, which we call e-dura, embeds interconnects, electrodes, and chemotrodes that sustain millions of mechanical stretch cycles, electrical stimulation pulses, and chemical injections. These integrated modalities enable multiple neuroprosthetic applications. The soft implants extracted cortical states in freely behaving animals for brain-machine interface and delivered electrochemical spinal neuromodulation that restored locomotion after paralyzing spinal cord injury.



EPFL Bendy electronics mimic the elastic properties of a neural membrane

If you need a piece of hardware attached to the delicate tissue of your brain or spinal cord, wouldn’t it be preferable for that piece of hardware to actually be soft, yielding, and flexible?

That kind of thinking led researchers at a Swiss technology institute to develop a new material modeled on dura matter, the protective membrane of the brain and spinal cord. Their “e-dura” contains stretchy electrodes that can both stimulate and record from neurons. When implanted in mice, the e-dura caused less damage and inflammation than today’s rigid implants. Researchers say their biocompatible material could be the key to long-lasting neural therapies.


The three Austrian men suffered injuries to the brachial plexus, a critical network of nerves which links the arm and shoulder to the spine and brain. The devastating injuries, caused in motor vehicle and climbing accidents, left the men unable to move their fingers, pick up or hold objects. However in landmark surgery, they have now been fitted with a bionic lower arm which is directly linked to their nervous systems and controlled by their own thoughts.



Photo: John Rogers/University of Illinois
Brain signals can be read using soft, flexible, wearable electrodes that stick onto and near the ear like a temporary tattoo and can stay on for more than two weeks even during highly demanding activities such as exercise and swimming, researchers say.

The invention could be used for a persistent brain-computer interface (BCI) to help people operate prosthetics, computers, and other machines using only their minds, scientists add.


A research team from the University of Houston has created an algorithm that allowed a man to grasp a bottle and other objects with a prosthetic hand, powered only by his thoughts. The technique, demonstrated with a 56-year-old man whose right hand had been amputated, uses non-invasive brain monitoring, capturing brain activity to determine what parts of the brain are involved in grasping an object.

With that information, researchers created a computer program, or brain-machine interface (BMI), that harnessed the subject's intentions and allowed him to successfully grasp objects, including a water bottle and a credit card. The subject grasped the selected objects 80 percent of the time using a high-tech bionic hand fitted to the amputee's stump.

Previous studies involving either surgically implanted electrodes or myoelectric control, which relies upon electrical signals from muscles in the arm, have shown similar success rates, according to the researchers.

Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, a neuroscientist and engineer at UH, said the non-invasive method offers several advantages: It avoids the risks of surgically implanting electrodes by measuring brain activity via scalp electroencephalogram, or EEG. And myoelectric systems aren't an option for all people, because they require that neural activity from muscles relevant to hand grasping remain intact.

The results of the study were published March 30 in Frontiers in Neuroscience, in the Neuroprosthetics section.

Contreras-Vidal, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH, was lead author of the paper, along with graduate students Harshavardhan Ashok Agashe, Andrew Young Paek and Yuhang Zhang.

The work, funded by the National Science Foundation, demonstrates for the first time EEG-based BMI control of a multi-fingered prosthetic hand for grasping by an amputee. It also could lead to the development of better prosthetics, Contreras-Vidal said.

Beyond demonstrating that prosthetic control is possible using non-invasive EEG, researchers said the study offers a new understanding of the neuroscience of grasping and will be applicable to rehabilitation for other types of injuries, including stroke and spinal cord injury.

The study subjects - five able-bodied, right-handed men and women, all in their 20s, as well as the amputee - were tested using a 64-channel active EEG, with electrodes attached to the scalp to capture brain activity. Contreras-Vidal said brain activity was recorded in multiple areas, including the motor cortex and areas known to be used in action observation and decision-making, and occurred between 50 milliseconds and 90 milliseconds before the hand began to grasp.

That provided evidence that the brain predicted the movement, rather than reflecting it, he said.

"Current upper limb neuroprosthetics restore some degree of functional ability, but fail to approach the ease of use and dexterity of the natural hand, particularly for grasping movements," the researchers wrote, noting that work with invasive cortical electrodes has been shown to allow some hand control but not at the level necessary for all daily activities.

"Further, the inherent risks associated with surgery required to implant electrodes, along with the long-term stability of recorded signals, is of concern. ... Here we show that it is feasible to extract detailed information on intended grasping movements to various objects in a natural, intuitive manner, from a plurality of scalp EEG signals."

Until now, this was thought to be possible only with brain signals acquired invasively inside or on the surface of the brain.

Researchers first recorded brain activity and hand movement in the able-bodied volunteers as they picked up five objects, each chosen to illustrate a different type of grasp: a soda can, a compact disc, a credit card, a small coin and a screwdriver. The recorded data were used to create decoders of neural activity into motor signals, which successfully reconstructed the grasping movements.

They then fitted the amputee subject with a computer-controlled neuroprosthetic hand and told him to observe and imagine himself controlling the hand as it moved and grasped the objects.

The subject's EEG data, along with information about prosthetic hand movements gleaned from the able-bodied volunteers, were used to build the algorithm.

Contreras-Vidal said additional practice, along with refining the algorithm, could increase the success rate to 100 percent.



Image: Pixium Vision

The 100-millimeter-square chip sits behind the retina, the part of the eye that contains the photoreceptor cells that respond to the light of the world by triggering electric pulses in other cells. Those pulses are part of a chain reaction that sends information up the optic nerve to the brain. In certain retinal diseases, the photoreceptor cells die off, but the remaining relay cells are undamaged. Different visual prostheses target different cells within this system for electrical stimulation.

Henri Lorach (from Daniel Palanker’s lab at Stanford) says his team’s advance is in using the same light signal to both transmit the image of the outside world and to power the implanted chip. The most advanced version of the chip has 70-micron pixels, each of which includes photodiodes and a stimulating electrode. “We cannot use ambient light to power these devices, because it’s not strong enough,” Lorach said, “so we use high-powered infrared light.”



Erik Sorto had been paralyzed for 10 years when hevolunteered for a bold neural engineering experiment: He would receive a brain implant and try to use the signals it recorded to control a robotic arm. Erik had no qualms about signing up for brain surgery, but his mother wasn’t happy about it. “She was just being a mom,” Sorto says with a smile. “She was like, ‘Your brain is the only part of your body that works just fine. Why would you mess with that?’ ”


More than two years after his surgery, his electrodes are still functioning and his enthusiasm is undimmed. In his second year of experiments, he mastered precise reaching and grasping movements by dint of an unusual exercise. “I played over 6,700 rounds of rock-paper-scissors,” Sorto says with agonized emphasis. “I want everybody to know that I worked hard.” It paid off, though, at the end of that second year, when he reached a long-held goal: He used the robot arm to lift a bottle of Modelo beer to his mouth and take a long swig.

Hieno juttu. Keskioluen nauttiminen on turvattu vaikka olisit halvaantunut leuvasta alaspäin. Muutama vuosikymmen eteenpäin ja meillä alkaa olla vahva teknologia korvaan esim taisteluissa hukattuja raajoja paremmilla verkeillä.


For decades, DARPA, the secretive research arm of the Department of Defense, has dreamed of turning soldiers into cyborgs. And now it’s finally happening. The agency has funded projects that involve implanting chips into soldiers’ brains that they hope will enhance performance on the battlefield and repair traumatized brains once the fog of war has lifted.

Creating super soldiers isn’t the only thing that DARPA is trying to do. According to Jacobsen’s new book, published by Little, Brown, government scientists hope that implanting chips in soldiers will unlock the secrets of artificial intelligence, and allow us to give machines the kind of higher-level reasoning that humans can do.

When you see all of these brain mapping programs going on, many scientists wonder whether this will [be what it takes] to break that long-sought barrier of AI,” said Jacobsen in a phone interview.


A new DARPA program aims to develop an implantable neural interface able to provide unprecedented signal resolution and data-transfer bandwidth between the human brain and the digital world. The interface would serve as a translator, converting between the electrochemical language used by neurons in the brain and the ones and zeros that constitute the language of information technology. The goal is to achieve this communications link in a biocompatible device no larger than one cubic centimeter in size, roughly the volume of two nickels stacked back to back.

The program, Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), stands to dramatically enhance research capabilities in neurotechnology and provide a foundation for new therapies.

“Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem,” said Phillip 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.”

Among the program’s potential applications are devices that could 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.

Neural interfaces currently approved for human use squeeze a tremendous amount of information through just 100 channels, with each channel aggregating signals from tens of thousands of neurons at a time. The result is noisy and imprecise. In contrast, the NESD program aims to develop systems that can communicate clearly and individually with any of up to one million neurons in a given region of the brain.


Under DARPA’s Reliable Neural-Interface Technology program, a team from the University of Melbourne has created a new device called a ‘stentrode’ that, when implanted near one’s brain, is able to read signals from neurons. The work was done as part of a DARPA project, and it is said to be safer than implants requiring brain surgery. The device is about the size of a paperclip, according to the researchers, and it is implanted through a blood vessel.

DARPA, which seeks such devices for its various projects, detailed the prototype device in a statement today, saying the researchers performed a proof-of-concept study using sheep. The stentrode, as it’s called, takes “high-fidelity measurements” of brain cells — in the case of the sheep, the researchers took measurements of the part of the brain that controls voluntary movements.

Stents, generally speaking, are common medical tools for clearing blood vessels, among other things. The researchers in this case used readily available stent technology and transformed it into something new, adding an array of electrodes on materials designed to be stiff enough to hold them, but flexible enough to be maneuvered into a blood vessel.



A few years ago, we wrote about this cybernetic arm that Georgia Tech professor Gil Weinberg developed for a drummer who had his right arm amputated. This was cool enough by itself, but back in 2014, Weinberg was already thinking about the next step: “robotic synchronization technology could potentially be used in the future by fully abled humans to control an embedded, mechanical third arm.” THE FUTURE IS NOW, and so are drummers that are 30 percent louder. Hooray?


The U.S. military is spending millions on an advanced implant that would allow a human brain to communicate directly with computers.

If it succeeds, cyborgs will be a reality.

The Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), hopes the implant will allow humans to directly interface with computers, which could benefit people with aural and visual disabilities, such as veterans injured in combat.

The goal of the proposed implant is to “open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics” according to DARPA’s program manager, Phillip Alvelda.



When you pull a muscle, it may hurt like heck for a while, but the human body can heal. The same is not true of the electrically-responsive polymers used to make artificial muscles for haptic systems and experimental robots. When they get cut or punctured, it’s game over.

A new polymer that’s super stretchy and self-healing can act as a more resilient artificial muscle material. Created by a team led by Stanford University materials scientist Zhenan Bao, the polymer has an unusual combination of properties. A 2.5-centimeter sheet of the stuff can be stretched out to a length of 2.5 meters. When it’s punctured it fuses back together, something other self-healing materials don’t do well in ambient conditions.

This version of the material is not going to power a robot to win any weight-lifiting contests: it generates just a small amount of force, expanding by 3.6 percent under an electric field of 17.2 millivolts per meter. (The muscle expands in one dimension, contracting in the other two.)



Scientists and engineers led by Duke University neuroscientist Miguel A. Nicolelis report that a group of spinal-cord-injury patients who trained to walk using a brain computer interface (BCI) in combination with an Occulus Rift virtual reality device and with a robotic exoskeleton have regained the ability to voluntarily move their leg muscles and to feel touch and pain in their paralyzed limbs.

The study, the results of 12 months of training, is the first long-term BCI experiment to show significant recovery from such severe injuries, the researchers say. The researchers reported their results today in the journal Scientific Reports.