Humans could soon have a ‘brainternet’ thanks to a wireless implant that will allow people to control computers and smart devices with their minds.
Scientists at Purdue University designed a device smaller than a dime that detected and transmitted data to a pair of over-ear headphones.
Unlike current brain chips, Purdue’s implants do not need to connect to a computer or device to capture the user’s brain waves.
The team anticipates that their innovation will allow people to connect to the Internet, computers and other smart devices no matter where they are.
While there have been many attempts to link brain signals with an external device, the latest research is the first to demonstrate high-bandwidth wireless communication between neural implants and wearable devices.
Purdue University scientists designed a tiny brain chip, smaller than a dime, that senses and transmits data to a wearable, headphone-shaped device that acts as a receiver.
Jan Rabaey, of the University of California, Berkeley. Rabaey, who was not involved in the study, said, “It’s very attractive to have a device that communicates from outside the skull with an implant.”
“It’s an interesting new take on a problem that a lot of people have been facing.”
To implant the Purdue chips, doctors remove the skin over the skull and a bilateral craniotomy is performed using a precision surgical dental drill.
After craniotomy, the midline of the skull is thinned to improve contact with the implant, which is not connected to the brain like those made by Elon Musk’s Neuralink.
Neuralink uses electrodes to connect chips to the brain.
The human body, including the brain, can innately support internal communications based on the generation of small electrical signals, the high-speed nature of which establishes a “broadband” channel that extends throughout the body.
The system places multiple implants throughout the brain tissue that require less energy but provide high-bandwidth data communication because they form a unified network.
Purdue’s grain-sized implants can be placed on top of tissue and patients wear an earpiece-like device as the center.
So-called brain-computer interfaces are designed to allow high-bandwidth interactions between these brain signals and computers.
Shreyas Sen, the study’s lead researcher, said Technological exploration: ‘Once our electric field base was mature around the body, it became an obvious choice for us to conduct this research, as it is also applicable within the brain for ultra-low-power, wide-bandwidth computer-implant communication. band”.
The team developed the system using a two-phase approach called biphasic quasi-static brain communication for wireless neural implants.
The term quasi-static means the signal that operates at a relatively low frequency.
Study leader Baibhab Chatterjee told TechXplore: “In this work, we demonstrate a technique called biphasic quasi-static brain communication (BP-QBC), which can reduce that power consumption by orders of magnitude (~41X reduction at 1 MHz). ), which allows the creation of a very low consumption but broadband communication channel.
“In addition, thanks to fully EQS signaling, our methods do not incur any transduction loss compared to competing technologies such as ultrasonic, optical and magnetoelectric data transfer, reducing system-level losses, thereby which constitutes another unique advantage of this technology.’
Looking ahead, however, Rabaey wonders how such devices will perform during in vivo studies, in which the electrical signal moves through the skull and various brain tissues, rather than the simplified saltwater model.
“More research and experiments will be needed to show that this is really robust under various circumstances,” he said.
Sen acknowledged that it is at least another 10 years before products contain this type of technology.
But, Sen said, “the building blocks are coming together” and the “big thing” demonstrated in the recent study is that the brain can get “its own bandwidth.”