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Brain-machine link helps you steer exoskeletons with your mind

You won't need open brain surgery to wear a thought-controlled robot suit.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
February 8, 2016
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University of Melbourne

Right now, mind-controlling a machine isn't pretty: you typically wear a silly cap or headset, or else subject yourself to open brain surgery to get a deeper link. Australian scientists might have a better way, though. They've developed a brain-machine interface that taps into your motor cortex through a relatively simple operation -- you won't need to gamble with your health to have a permanent connection to robotics. The device (known as a stentrode) would let you directly steer an exoskeleton or artificial limb through thoughts alone, even if you need the implant for "many months" at a time.

This isn't just a theoretical exercise, either: the stentrode is already in line for human trials in 2017. If it succeeds, it could bring mobility to paralyzed people that need more than a wheelchair, such as "locked in" patients that can't move any limbs. Eventually, joysticks and other clunky control mechanisms might be a thing of the past.

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