Friday, August 10, 2018

Neural Interfaces Connect Warfighters Directly to Computers

From John Keller's 3-26-18 Military & Aerospace Electronics article entitled "DARPA Eyes New Neural Interfaces to Connect Warfighters Hands-free to Advanced Military Systems":

U.S. military researchers are asking for industry's help in developing non-invasive or minimally invasive neural interfaces to connect warfighters directly to computers or other digital devices to enable fast, effective, and intuitive hands-free interaction with military systems.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., issued a presolicitation Friday (HR001118S0029) for the Next-Generation Non-Surgical Neurotechnology (N3) project to develop a nonsurgical neural interface system to broaden the applicability of neural interfaces to the able-bodied warfighter.

Until now, neural interfaces that connect human brains to computers and other digital equipment have been surgically invasive and used primarily to help restore functions and skills to injured warfighters. The N3 project, however, seeks to enable neural recording and stimulation with sub-millimeter spatial resolution in healthy warfighters.

Neural interfaces could enable warfighters to multitask more efficiently, and interact with autonomous and semi-autonomous systems -- particularly future systems equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), researchers say.

The problem with human-machine neural interfaces today is how surgically invasive they are. State-of-the-art high-resolution single-neuron or neural-ensemble neural interfaces are invasive, and require surgical implantation of metal or silicon-based electrodes into brain tissue or on the surface of the brain [...].

Non invasive interfaces will involve sensors and stimulators that do not breach the skin. Minutely invasive approaches, meanwhile, will permit nonsurgical delivery of a nanotransducer delivered to neurons of interest.

Transducers should be small enough so as not to cause tissue damage or impede the natural neuronal circuit, and will be external to the skull. Non invasive and minutely invasive approaches will be necessary to overcome issues with signal scattering, attenuation, and signal-to-noise ratio [...].

The N3 program will provide as long as four years of funding to deliver a nonsurgical neural interface system and is divided into three sequential phases: a one-year base effort, and two 18-month option periods.

Proposers must use approaches that ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability (also known as the CIA triad) to prevent spoofing, tampering, or denial of service. It will be necessary to secure connections among the integrated device, the processing unit, and the system user’s brain.

To read the entire article, click HERE.

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