“Upgrade Your Memory With A Surgically Implanted Brain Chip”

In a five-year, $77 million project by the Department of Defense to create an implantable brain device that restores memory-generation capacity for people with traumatic brain injuries, a device has now been developed by Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and the medical technology company Medtronic Plc, and successfully tested with funding from America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

Connected to the left temporal cortex, it monitors the brain’s electrical activity and forecasts whether a lasting memory will be created. “Just like meteorologists predict the weather by putting sensors in the environment that measure humidity and wind speed and temperature, we put sensors in the brain and measure electrical signals,” Kahana says. If brain activity is suboptimal, the device provides a small zap, undetectable to the patient, to strengthen the signal and increase the chance of memory formation.

In two separate studies, researchers found the prototype consistently boosted memory 15 per cent to 18 per cent. The second group performing human testing, a team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., aided by colleagues at the University of Southern California, has a more finely tuned method. In a study published last year, their patients showed memory retention improvement of as much as 37 per cent. “We’re looking at questions like, ‘Where are my keys? Where did I park the car? Have I taken my pills?’â” says Robert Hampson, lead author of the 2018 study…

Both groups have tested their devices only on epileptic patients with electrodes already implanted in their brains to monitor seizures; each implant requires clunky external hardware that won’t fit in somebody’s skull. The next steps will be building smaller implants and getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to bring the devices to market… Justin Sanchez, who just stepped down as director of Darpa’s biological technologies office, says veterans will be the first to use the prosthetics. “We have hundreds of thousands of military personnel with traumatic brain injuries,” he says. The next group will likely be stroke and Alzheimer’s patients.

Eventually, perhaps, the general public will have access—though there’s a serious obstacle to mass adoption. “I don’t think any of us are going to be signing up for voluntary brain surgery anytime soon,” Sanchez says. “Only when these technologies become less invasive, or noninvasive, will they become widespread.”

Scientists Have Developed a Brain Implant That Can Read People’s Minds

The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is “exhilarating.” They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk. The mind-reading technology works in two stages. First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that maneuver the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw. Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds. This results in synthesized speech coming out of a “virtual vocal tract.”

Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin

In Sweden, a country rich with technological advancement, thousands have had microchips inserted into their hands.

The chips are designed to speed up users’ daily routines and make their lives more convenient — accessing their homes, offices and gyms is as easy as swiping their hands against digital readers.

More than 4,000 Swedes have adopted the technology, with one company, Biohax International, dominating the market. The chipping firm was started five years ago by Jowan Osterlund, a former professional body piercer.

Many early adopters come from Stockholm’s thriving startup scene. Erik Frisk, a 30-year-old Web developer and designer, says he was really curious about the technology as soon as he heard about it and decided to get his own chip in 2014.

Sweden’s largest train company has started allowing commuters to use chips instead of tickets, and there’s talk that the chips could soon be used to make payments in shops and restaurants.

Swedes are used to sharing personal information, with many online purchases and administrative bodies requiring their social security numbers. Mobile phone numbers are widely available in online search databases, and people can easily look up each other’s salaries by calling the tax authority.

Swedish railway uses microchip implants

Sweden’s state-owned rail operator SJ is allowing passengers to use microchip implants rather than conventional tickets. The idea is currently being trialed just among some SJ members. It means all they need to travel is their left hand and the small microchip implanted in it. Authorities believe implanting the microchip will make the train journey more convenient.

SJ claims to be the first travel company in the world to enable passengers to use microchip implants to validate their tickets. The small implants use Near Field Communication technology, the same tech used in contactless credit cards or mobile payments.

Implanting microchips under the skin is becoming increasingly popular in Sweden. But experts warn there are security and privacy issues to consider.