Re: [unrev-II] Digest Number 75

From: Neil Scott (
Date: Tue Mar 28 2000 - 07:13:27 PST

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    From: Neil Scott <>

    The "bioLink" device we have came from a company that spun out of Wright
    Patterson Air force research labs. I visited the Wright Patt lab and
    saw the system you mentioned. It was very slow and tedious -- several
    seconds per switching event. But like all things, it can only get
    better. There is a limit to what can be achieved from external
    electrodes but, if a person accepts the idea of implanted electrodes,
    there is a very high chance that we can have wide bandwidth inputs and
    outputs. The latest cochlea implants, for example process 100,000
    samples per second and deliver high fidelity sound to the implantee.

    There is a lot of progress in bio/silicon interfaces. Some researchers
    here at stanford have developed a chip that is bio compatible on one
    side and standard silicon on the other. This type of device is being
    developed for applications such as splicing broken nerve bundles back
    together. Neurons grow into conical holes in the bio coating on each
    side of the chip and a programmable layer in the middle is progressively
    programmed to match the nerve endings together in the correct order --
    rather like a field programmable logic array.

    Another example of bio implanting that is possible now is to implant a
    tiny piece of metal in the surface of the eyeball. The position of this
    speck can be continually monitored by a pair of orthogonal coils or
    micro impulse radar and we have the basis of a perfect eye tracking
    system. This type of measurement is routine for medical research and I
    have been assured by medical people that it can be absolutely safe. So,
    as long as we have GUI interfaces, maybe we should have an implanted
    pointing device.

    Typing is basically a low bandwidth exercise. With only seven reliable
    switching channels (7 neurons we can fire voluntarily) we can perform
    all the functions of a conventional keyboard. It is conceivable that
    extremely high frequency RF could be used to monitor 7 neurons reliably
    -- we need to get some funding to find out. -- The micro impulse radar
    (MIR) developed at Lawrence Livermore Labs can see tiny movements of
    internal body parts such as vocal chords so it may be possible to see
    tiny muscle movements triggered by small nerve impulses rather than the
    nerve impulse itself.

    By the way, the MIR has been used to build a non acoustic speech
    recognition system -- movements of the vocal chords, tongue and jaw are
    monitored -- long way to go before it replaces a microphone but it has
    the potential for working in noisy environments.

    I have a friend in Virginia who has made a non-contact throat microphone
    that monitors the movement of the skin on the front of the throat using
    the laser mechanism out of a CD replay unit. -- also works in noisy

    As for Moore's Law, we are going to see fantastic developments from
    implanted devices in the next few years. Retinal implants with Gigaflop
    computing capabilities are being developed now and will provide instant
    object and face recognition for blind people. I'm not blind but I
    desperately need one of these to remember all the people I meet....

    Neil Scott

    Jon Winters wrote:
    > From: Jon Winters <>
    > Neil Scott wrote:
    > <snip>
    > > looked at emg signals as a possible source of inputs but it is difficult
    > > to separate the wanted signals from the noise.
    > >
    > <snip>
    > > more about the human movements, we plan to take another look at
    > > electrical signals (EMG) and video pickup.
    > I've seen a documentary or too with the USAF working on a system that
    > allows for a pilot to 'fly by thought' in a simulator. Things seemed to
    > be in a very research and development mode and they stressed that a
    > great amount of training is involved.
    > Do you we will see a practical thought input device during my lifetime?
    > I can think of many different situations where this would come in
    > handy. (wearable computers, workplace environments that need both
    > hands, people with disabilities) Seems like it would also solve problems
    > like repetitive stress and tendon injuries.
    > Will Moore's law and faster computers help overcome the signal to noise
    > problem?
    > My wife would appriciate me 'thinking' commands into my computer... it
    > makes a lot less noise than a keyboard or voice recognition.
    > --
    > Jon Winters
    > "Everybody Loves The GIMP!"
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