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“Case was twenty-four. At twenty-two, he’d been a cowboy, a rustler, one of the best in the Sprawl…jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix.”
– William Gibson

Expanded Awareness

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Connection of sensors to brain areas to shorten the processing loop. Think of ten examples that have nothing to do with killing “targets”.

“The most far-reaching component of the binocs has nothing to do with the optics: it’s Darpa’s aspirations to integrate EEG electrodes that monitor the wearer’s neural signals, cueing soldiers to recognize targets faster than the unaided brain could on its own. The idea is that EEG can spot “neural signatures” for target detection before the conscious mind becomes aware of a potential threat or target…That prefrontal cortex, he explains, allows the brain to pick up patterns quickly, but it also exercises a powerful impulse control, inhibiting false alarms. EEG would essentially allow the binoculars to bypass this inhibitory reaction and signal the wearer to a potential threat. In other words, like Spiderman’s “spider sense,” a soldier could be alerted to danger that his or her brain had sensed, but not yet had time to process.”

Neural Interfaces

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Or just jack in. mania all over again?

“Brainwave signals, eye movements, and other bio-signals are captured and amplified via our patented Dry-Active Sensor technology.”

Toward Better Interfaces

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Here’s one that gets us out of the constricting box of the mouse and click paradigm.

“In this demo, Jeff Han shows off (for the first time publicly) a high-resolution multi-touch computer screen that may herald the end of the point-and-click mouse. The demo, which drew spontaneous applause and audible gasps from the audience, begins with a simple lava lamp, then turns into a virtual photo-editing tabletop, where Han flicks photos across the screen as if they were paper snapshots. (The Apple iPhone, to be released a year later, also does multi-touch — but only with two fingers.)”

Bionic Review

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An overview of advances in bio-technical interfaces including, yes, the bionic anus.

Neurotechnology Innovation

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Interesting and broad review of neural interface research.

“Neural interfaces have emerged as effective interventions to reduce the burden associated

with some neurologic diseases, injuries, and disabilities. The 2005 Neural Interfaces Workshop was convened to discuss recent advances and future opportunities for neural technologies….areas of interest include functional neuro- muscular stimulation (FNS), auditory prosthesis, cortical prosthesis, microelectrode array technology, and logy, and brain computer/machine interfaces. “

“Numenta is developing a new type of computer memory system modeled after the human neocortex. The applications of this technology are broad and can be applied to solve problems in computer vision, artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning.”

“The $6-million eel it ain’t. But researchers who have taken the unprecedented step of connecting a brain, in this case a sea lamprey’s brain, to a small mobile robot say they’ve got a roving fishbot that may someday lead to better prosthetic devices for humans.”

“The first PHANTOM® haptic device was designed and built in the early 1990s by Thomas Massie and Dr. Kenneth Salisbury. Massie, an undergraduate student at MIT at the time, and Dr. Kenneth Salisbury, then a principal research scientist at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, worked together to combine robotic and haptic technologies to “reach into the computer display” and touch and manipulate 3D data. What began as a thesis project was validated when demand for the PHANTOM device began to spread through MIT and the research communities of other leading institutions. SensAble™ was formally incorporated in 1993.”

The March of Chips

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Microchips are doing more and more with less and less. A recent sample:

Sanyo – “…microchip combines functions of earphone and microphone. Chip reproduces sounds from the eardrum.”

Hewlett-Packard – “Memory Spot Chip – a miniature wireless data chip, the size of a grain of rice…could be stuck on or embedded in almost any object and make available information and content now found mostly on electronic devices or the Internet.”

SmartPill – “SmartPill has received approval by the Food and Drug Administration to be marketed in the United States. The electronic pill is meant to be ingested by a patient; it then gathers information about the digestive system as it travels through it, transmitting the information to a receiver worn by the patient.”

Glasgow University Digital Retina – “The device would contain an imaging detector with hundreds of pixels coupled to an array of microscopic stimulating electrodes…If light forms an image on the detector, then the result will be electrical stimulation of the retina in the shape of this image. The stimulated cells then send the information via the optic nerve to the brain. The imaging part of the system is based on the technology used in any digital camera.” The prototype of the implant has 100 pixels, but the researchers hope to increase this as their work progresses. “Around 500 pixels would allow people to walk down the street and recognise faces,” Dr Mathieson said.”

More Power

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There’s also power and connectivity for the off-grid laptop project.

“One of the big criticisms that’s been leveled at the much-vaunted OLPC project is that it’s missing one key element: internet access. Well, a pair of Sun Microsystems employees are looking to remedy that situation with the Green WiFi project, which promises to bring cheap, solar-powered WiFi to developing countries.”

Power for the Mesh

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I have been tracking mobile and small footprint power sources as a key infrastructure piece of the self-aware networks arising through the interplay of wireless sensors, RFID chips and wi-fi networks. This company specializes in ultra-thin lithium batteries powering everything from wireless sensors to implantable medical devices.

“Infinite Power Solutions (IPS) announced today that it raised $34.7

million primarily to build new facilities for high-volume manufacturing of its

LiTE*STARTM thin-film batteries. Proceeds from this deal will also be used to accelerate

business development and continue innovation of future battery technologies.”

Emergency Alert For Sale

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Location based services – optional for the provider in this deregulatory world, but is there a business model? Hmm.

“In this Public Notice, the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) seeks nominations for membership on its Commercial Mobile Service Alert Advisory Committee (Committee). The purpose of this committee is to develop recommendations on technical standards and protocols to facilitate the ability of commercial mobile service providers to transmit emergency alerts to their subscribers to the extent such providers elect to do so.”

Neural Prosthetics from Honda

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News from a nice portal site on assistive technology.

“Yukiyasu Kamitani and associates from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, together with researchers from the Honda Research Institute in Saitama, have demonstrated a robotic hand that can be controlled solely with the power of brain…The robotic hand’s movements are based on real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of a person’s brain activity. It bears close resemblance to real hand in the way it performs. This assistive technology solution is a milestone in the progress towards prosthetics and computers solely controlled by thought.”