“If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes”
-Roy Batty, “Blade Runner”
Well, maybe we can soon. Recently, DARPA’s (Defense Research Projects Agency) own Director, Dr. Arati Prabhakar opened a BIT (Biology Is Technology) event in which she spoke about DARPA’s initiative to take big chances managing risk and developing high technology. Their new BTO (Biotechnology Program Office) is headed by practicing Army medical doctor, Dr. Geoff Ling. Program Manager, Phillip Alvelda, unveiled the “cortical modem”.
The Cortical Modem is a direct neural interface that will allow a visual display of information. Basically, Google Glass or the Oculus Rift without the headgear. The first steps of creating this device are with the goal of a cost effective solution (around $10 worth of parts) in developing a neural based display device. Using Optogenetics, based on the works of Karl Deisseroth, the initial goal is to create something that would be reminiscent of an early LED alarm clock. Optogenetics uses light to control neurons which have been genetically sensitized to light. This technology would allow read and write information to occur. The implications range from restoring eyesight to true augmentation.
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