Duke University neuroengineer Miguel Nicolelis is trying to build a robot suit that can read your mind. The scientist is working on designing an exoskeleton that can process the brain’s electrical impulses, and translate them into actual movement—a feat that could one day help paralyzed people walk on their own.
Nicolelis’s technology is still in its early stages: He’s experimented successfully with rats and monkeys, but the human brain has proven to be more challenging. Still, he’s managed to build an admittedly bulky exoskeleton that allows a human subject take a few small steps forward, and even kick a soccer ball. Though it's a far cry from the brain-powered robosuits that Nicolelis hopes will one day give paralyzed people full mobility, the scientist’s exoskeleton prototype represents an important first step forward.
The short documentary “Mind-Controlled Machines Give Paralyzed Patients New Hope,” by Cyborg Nation, delves into Nicolelis’ fascinating research. In the short film, Nicolelis explains, “Once you get the brain outside the physical limits of the body, the limit is the imagination.”
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