For several years now, scientists have been trying to give people the ability to control devices with just their brain. You may remember from back in 2006 when a paralyzed man used his thoughts to move a cursor, with the hope that the mind-controlled cursor would eventually lead to mind-controlled robotic devices. Now researchers have made a leap forward in improving mind-controlled devices.
Scientists have known for a while that just thinking about moving a limb stimulates the same part of the brain as actually moving the limb. Using this knowledge, researchers led by Nicholas Hatsopoulos from the University of Chicago were able to give monkeys the ability to move a cursor. Once the monkeys could control cursor, they placed a "robotic sleeve" over one of the monkey's arms.
When the monkey moved the cursor on the screen, then the robotic arm also moved in tandem with the cursor. This extra sensation of touch, an artificially produced sensory feedback, quickly helped the monkeys cursor movements become faster and more precise.
The researchers hope that this artificially produced sensory feedback will eventually help people control other devices with their mind. Hatsopoulos states that, "wearable exoskeletal robots could provide sensory information to patients with full or partial feeling." If that's true, someday we may be flying around like Iron Man, avoiding TSA strip searches entirely.
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