Mind-Controlled Limbs: Science-Fiction or Reality?

As the temperature begins to turn wintry, the holidays draw ever closer, and 2016 waits for the ball to drop, let’s turn our goggles to the near future to see what new technology awaits. This year has been littered with technological advances like the rise in popularity and production of hands-free segways and further integration of household electronics and appliances. While this trend is sure to continue well into the next year, the technology that we’re focusing on today, is a bit more elaborate and impactful than just a hoverboard or blinds that shut themselves.

Recently, a video made its way around the net, popping up on video-sharing sites like “WorldStarHipHop” and “YouTube” of a veteran receiving an innovative new kind of prosthetic arm. This neuroprosthesis would do what up until now amputees and doctors have only been able to dream of–allow the wearer to manipulate the prosthetic arm through utilization of his or her brainwaves. Though the Denver marine, who lost his arm in a tragic accident with an explosive while serving his country, is arguably the most publicized recipient of the new technology, but he isn’t the only one. The Alfred Man Foundation, the developers of the life-enhancing technology, have sent the robotic arm to seven other patients also. Their neuroprosthesis have already begun the arduous task of making the lives of eight people easier, and other foundations and researchers are still hard at work, perfecting the technology.

The neuroprosthesis works by creating an electromagnetic field using a copper coil to create an electromagnetic field that reads the firing and movement of the arm’s muscles and then translates and relays the commands to the PCI–or the brains. The wearer can open and close the hand, move it back and forth, and perform other motions by thinking. This technology has unbelievable ramifications in the health sciences sector. It can greatly improve the quality of life for those that are injured or have lost limbs. It also can lead to more integrated bioengineering in the future, such as enhanced neuroprosthesis that allow the wearer powers of more than that of the average human.

Funding for this technology is only increasing, as the government has now begun to research and develop the technology for their own purpose, which will probably ensure that it has enough money for proper production, but may not mean that it will be accessible to everyone who needs it. Still, with eight people already walking around with the technology, and countless thousands of dollars still being poured into perfecting it, chances are that in 2016 there will be a lot more than just eight neuroprosthesis walking around.

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