A real cyborg? This man has been wearing a “brain-computer interface” implant for more than 7 years!

For more than seven years and three months, 36-year-old Nathan Copeland has lived with a brain-computer interface, making him almost a cybernetic being.

According WIREDCooper holds the longest record for a person to have this type of implant, as of Wednesday, August 17.

He can control external equipment, such as a computer, video games and a robotic arm that he can move by thinking, thanks to a surgically implanted array of electrodes the size of a pencil eraser that transforms his impulses cerebral in order.

(Photo: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the 1960s

Copeland was rendered immobile and limbless due to a car accident in 2004, crippling him from the chest down. To find out if a brain-computer interface, or BCI, can help him regain some of the ability he lost, he took part in a study at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014.

Even though it would involve brain surgery and no one knew how long the gadget would remain functional, he didn’t hesitate to sign up.

This could indicate that the technology, which has been in the works since the 1960s but is still in the experimental stage, is about to become a commercially available product for people with severe disabilities.

In total, Copeland has four active implants after receiving her initial board in 2015 and three more as part of the study. They are known as Utah gratings and resemble the bristles of a hairbrush, thanks to their hard silicone construction.

A typical array consists of 100 tiny needles, each about a millimeter long, coated in a conductive metal and arranged in a square grid, according to WIRED.

These networks allow researchers to observe and record the activity of hundreds of nearby neurons as they generate electrical fields interacting with each other.

Researchers must convert these neural impulses into digital commands that allow the wearer to operate a prosthesis or computer to create a true brain-computer interface.

Read also: walking snake? YouTuber Creates ‘Weird Robotic Legs’ For His Pet Snake

BrainGate system

The BrainGate system Copeland uses consists of an implanted network, a cable that connects a nickel-sized pedestal on his skull to an external device that amplifies his neurological signals, and a computer with software to interpret those signals.

When Richard Normann was a professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah in the 1980s, he first came up with the idea for the Utah Network because he was trying to find a way to restore vision. It has since become the industry standard for brain-computer interface research.

Matt Naglethe first paralyzed person to receive a matrix implant Utah in 2004, could move a computer cursor, control a television, check email, and open and close a prosthetic hand.

Following the guidelines of the study he was participating in, Nagle’s implant was finally removed after a year. There are currently more than 30 study participants wearing implanted BCIs around the world.

Related article: Robust AI’s New Warehouse Robot Detects Human Movement, Creating Safer Human-Machine Interaction

This article belongs to Tech Times

Written by Joaquin Victor Tacla

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