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DARPA’s Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET) program researched the long-term viability of brain interfaces and continues research to develop high-performance, reliable peripheral interfaces. These new peripheral interfaces use signals from nerves or muscles to both control prosthetics and to provide direct sensory feedback. Ongoing clinical trials present compelling examples of both interface types.
“Although the current generation of brain, or cortical, interfaces have been used to control many degrees of freedom in an advanced prosthesis, researchers are still working on improving their long-term viability and performance,” said Jack Judy, DARPA program manager. “The novel peripheral interfaces developed under RE-NET are approaching the level of control demonstrated by cortical interfaces and have better biotic and abiotic performance and reliability. Because implanting them is a lower risk and less invasive procedure, peripheral interfaces offer greater potential than penetrating cortical electrodes for near-term treatment of amputees. RE-NET program advances are already being made available to injured warfighters in clinical settings.”
A team of researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) demonstrated a type of peripheral interface called targeted muscle re-innervation (TMR). By rewiring nerves from amputated limbs, new interfaces allow for prosthetic control with existing muscles. Former Army Staff Sgt. Glen Lehman, injured in Iraq, recently demonstrated improved TMR technology. In the following video, Lehman demonstrates simultaneous joint control of a prosthetic arm made possible by support from the RE-NET program.
Cabaret Voltaire - Spies in the Wires
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