A revolutionary technology that could change the lives of people with disabilities is being developed by a US-based company, Blackrock Neurotech. Since 2004, approximately three dozen individuals have participated in research studies using NeuroPort Array chip devices with the hope of significantly improving the lives of people with paralysis, depression, and physical disabilities.
The company aims for the device to eventually control robotic arms and electric wheelchairs using the users’ minds, still, this technology is still in the experimental stage and is far from being commercially available. A guy named Nathan Copeland, who suffered a serious spinal injury in a car accident in 2004, is one of the pioneers of this technology, having received his implant in 2014.
He has achieved “sensory feedback through intracortical microstimulation,” which has enabled him to interact with his environment in new ways. The implantable array allows people to connect directly to computers, control robotic arms and wheelchairs, play video games, and even regain sensation, all with just their brain signals.
The implant accesses the person’s thoughts through 100 microneedles reading electrical signals produced by the brain, which are decoded using machine learning.
This device has the potential to perform complex tasks, such as using a computer or drawing a portrait; even so, there are significant ethical and regulatory considerations that must be addressed before the implant can be used outside of the lab — According to Unilad, Blackrock Neurotech must obtain FDA approval if the implant is to leave the lab and interface with tools.
Despite the challenges, the company’s long-term vision is for the implant to become as readily available to people with paralysis as pacemakers are for those with heart issues. If approved and tested correctly, the implant could significantly improve the quality of life of individuals with serious disabilities and other issues.
Filed in Accessibility.. Read more about