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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

Direct Electrical Stimulation of the Brain

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Not a neural prosthesis approach, but still building knowledge about the electrical nature of the brain and how enhancing or disrupting existing electrical patterns leads to behavioral changes.

“Dr. Mayberg: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most effective treatment for major depression, particularly in patients who fail to respond to standard treatments such as psychotherapy or medication. In some patients, medication augmentation strategies can be effective. Most recently, vagus nerve stimulation has obtained US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for treatment-resistant depression. Other strategies that target the brain more directly, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), magnetic seizure therapy (MST), and DBS, are currently being researched.”

Federal Neurosphere Commission

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This is interesting – this is a little forward thinking, even for an agency that is supposed to be forward thinking. Certainly this is coming and a reasoned examination of how/if spectrum policy will affect this emerging group of technologies, but I wonder if some device manufacturers are looking to reserve specific spectrum to set the stage for commercial introductions.

“The FCC yesterday approved a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to create a MedRadio band from 401-406 MHz that would allocate an additional 2 MHz of spectrum for radio transmissions from implanted and body-worn medical devices.”

“The Commission is asking for comments on its proposal to provide ADDITIONAL spectrum for use by new medical devices that are in use or soon will be. Implanted or body-worn devices in the future could enable paralyzed individuals to control artificial limbs by thought through wireless interfaces between brain, nerve and muscle… For health care providers and patients, such wireless implant monitoring technologies have the potential to lower medical costs by extending the time between hospital visits and surgical procedures.

The spectrum and operational rules being proposed are intended to ensure that these devices are able to operate effectively.

Comments are due by October 31 and can be filed on ECFS express at


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More on the neural interface from the previous story, and a link to the company behind the technology.

“”The results from the third participant are particularly significant because we have begun to replicate the intuitive control of a computer mouse,” stated John P. Donoghue, Ph.D., a founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cyberkinetics and Director of the Brain Science Program at Brown University. “Such control, including the ability to ‘stop’ the computer cursor, for example, is directly related to a person’s ability to stop other electronically controlled devices, such as a motorized wheel chair. The new data expands our previous results showing that we are able to obtain neural signals in additional participants. We believe these findings are leading to a day when this technology can be used to improve the lives of those who are paralyzed.””

Neural Body Mod

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The latest in body mod – interfaces from the brain to the computer.

“Neurologist Leigh Hochberg of Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues–including sensor co-inventor John Donoghue of Brown University–placed the tiny sensor containing 100 electrodes, each thinner than a human hair, onto the surface of Nagle’s motor cortex, the part of the brain that governs movement. The sensor registered electrical signals from nearby neurons and transmitted them through gold wires to a titanium base on Nagle’s skull. Cables connected this base to a set of computers, processors and monitors.”

More on Warfighting

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A longer article on the use of “augmented cognition” for military application.

Conversations with computers are usually pretty one-sided: Users may yell obscenities; cursors continue to blink innocuously. But a collaborative effort between the military and industry may one day replace this one-way, futile discourse with systems that understand the user’s cognitive state and then respond accordingly. The implications of this capability reach beyond ensuring that warfighters are primed to receive critical information. It could prove to be instrumental to inventing ways of designing new systems and improving military training.

Wearable Music

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“Battle every condition imaginable while fully rocking out” – the Neurosphere is going to be Fun.

“The Shield™ Jacket, with an integrated iPod™ system, features a flexible SOFTswitch™ control pad located on the sleeve that’s iPod-compatible*. Simply press a button on your sleeve and the song changes. No need to unzip or expose bare fingers – it’s that easy. The iPod™ itself is stored safely in a specially designed, EVA molded chest pocket. Battle every condition imaginable while fully rocking out with the ballistic Storm-lite® 6.0 fully taped shell’s unbeatable blend of performance and style. The jacket is even machine washable, just be sure to remove the iPod™ interface module.”


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Not as ruggedized as the Land Warrior, but…

OtterBox carries the most rugged waterproof boxes on the market. Otter Box waterproof cases are waterproof up to 100 feet deep – 10 times deeper than our competition!!!

Wearable War

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Again, war technology leading the evolution of technology. Unlike Xybernaut, they’re unlikely to go Chapter 11.

“An Army Stryker battalion training for possible deployment to Iraq in 2007 will outfit hundreds of its soldiers with the high-tech “land warrior” ensemble this summer. These soldiers will help determine whether the system is suitable for combat and if the Army should continue to invest in the technology.

The land warrior ensemble includes a communications and navigation computer-radio suite, a helmet-mounted display and a customized rifle. The land warriors are connected to a network, and each can pinpoint the others’ location simply by looking into their displays. They are the dismounted equivalent of the “blue-force tracking” system the Army employs aboard vehicles.”

Wearable Computing

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Another of my favorite companies to watch. Alas, fallen on hard times.

“Mobile Assistant V (MA V) wearable computer boosts on-the-job productivity and quality of service. This powerful, rugged, fully functional, super lightweight wearable computer goes anywhere to achieve the task-at-hand. Xybernaut Software and Services complement the MA V Product Platform and ensure maximum benefit for your organization…A maintenance technician on a pole repairing a line accesses schematics and confirms a work order in real-time to quickly restore phone service to customers.

Xybernaut, involved in a Chapter 11 proceeding before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, is engaged in an effort to reorganize with the objective of emerging from Chapter 11 as a viable provider of mobile and wearable computing and communications solutions. In pursuing this objective, the company recently negotiated a debtor-in-possession loan of up to $5 million over a one year period, and is seeking to sell its many patents and intellectual properties.”


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An update from a favorite company to watch, global responsibility through commerce.

“Freeplay Energy plc (AIM: FRE), the sustainable energy company that captures, stores and delivers electric power to self-powered devices such as radios, torches and mobile phone chargers, is pleased to announce…a distribution agreement with WP Phones for its FreeCharge™ Mobile Phone Charger (“FreeCharge”) in Africa…”We are delighted with this substantial order from WP Phones. This agreement supports Freeplay’s continued focus on telecommunications opportunities, particularly in Africa where there are in excess of 50 million cell phone users and according to the World Bank, only 22% of people who have access to electricity.”