If you've ever dreamed about moving objects with your mind like Professor X, Darth Vader or that creepy-ass title character from Carrie, maybe it's time to join the U.S. military?
Alright, we're not quite there yet, but there is some cool/nightmarish news (depending how you feel about such things) on the possibility of humans someday being able to control electronic devices with their brains. Thanks to something called a "brain modem" that's being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—the mysterious agency known for developing the U.S. military's coolest/most nightmarish tech—soldiers may one day be able to operate things like unmanned drones with their mind. For the rest of us lazys, it could mean binge-watching Neflix while literally never having to move a muscle again.
The Daily Beast reports that earlier this month DARPA announced it had successfully tested a device on sheep that gets us a lot closer to a human brain modem being a reality.
The so-called “stentrode,” a combination stent and electrode, is the size of a paperclip and flexible. The tiny, injectable machine—the invention of neurologist Tom Oxley and his team at the University of Melbourne in Australia—could help researchers solve one of the most vexing problems with the brain modem: how to insert a transmitter into the brain without also drilling a hole in the user’s head, a risky procedure under any circumstances.
The device travels through a vein to the brain, where it opens up to hold itself in place as it records the electrical signals being sent out by the brain to move the sheep's body. That's the kind of data that gets us way closer to the brain modem reality. Of course, there's always the possibility of a deadly stroke, but isn't that a small price to pay if you can someday turn your coffeepot on just by thinking about it before you even get out of bed.
There have been breakthroughs in mind-controlled electronics recently, like the Marine who received the first mind-controlled prosthetic hand, but controlling items remotely is still mostly fantasy. We just hope they don't ever find a way to hook up our brains to our Twitter accounts. They're controlling enough of our brains already.