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Brain-decoding chip, algorithms give quadriplegic movement again

Sharon Gaudin | July 3, 2014
With chip implanted in his brain, a 23-year-old quadriplegic moves his fingers and hand.

The work at Ohio State is another step in efforts to use technology to help those suffering from paralysis and other debilitating illnesses.

Robotic exoskeletons have helped people suffering from paralysis walk again. The U.S. military last month was due to begin testing a new exoskeleton, or Iron Man-like suit, designed to make soldiers stronger, give them real-time battlefield information, monitor their vital signs and even stop their bleeding.

And more than six years ago, a University of Arizona researcher who had successfully connected a moth's brain to a robot predicted that by 2017 or 2022, "hybrid" computers will be used that run a combination of technology and living organic tissue.

"The line between robots and people will be blurred with smart prosthetics and implanted components," said Russ Tedrake, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, in a recent interview. "It won't be robots and people but robot people... If you were in distress and given the choice for a longer, more comfortable life by simply replacing your spleen with a machine that could do the same job, wouldn't you take it?"

 

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