VSJ – June 2005 – Sounding Board

Council member John Ellis, FIAP wrote an article in last March’s VSJ which, he fondly imagined, described castles in the air. Here he points us at two recent reports that show that some of the castles are already drying concrete.
Following my recent fantasy foray on the use of electronics to interface with the brain and allow disabled users (or indeed any person fitted out with the right equipment) to access the Internet, I thought I would share two recent articles from the BBC News Web site.
The first is about the ability of a man to access domestic appliances by having a chip implanted in his spinal column. Matthew Nagle, 25, underwent pioneering surgery last year at the New England Sinai Hospital in Stoughton, Massachusetts. He can now control everyday objects by thought alone. The chip ‘reads his mind’ and sends the ‘thoughts’ to a computer to tun into commands. This could be a kettle, robotic hand or even a mouse. Since a mouse is really just a virtual pointer, he does not need the real thing. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4396387.stm
The second is about a method of transmitting video from a miniature camera, fitted to spectacles, to a chip in the eye that translates them into a signal the brain can interpret. The device has been designed by Professor Gislin Dagnelie at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. While the images are not presently video quality, they can only get better and human trials may begin within a year. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4411591.stm
When I began writing the original article last year I didn’t think it would turn into science fact so soon!
[Something you’d like to get off your chest? Email me (Robin Jones) at eo@iap.org.uk.]

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