Neural cybernetic implants could arrive within a decade

Posted by TRENT NOUVEAU

Have you ever dreamed of jacking into the 'Net using a neural cybernetic interface?

Well, neural implants - initially designed to restore damaged regions of the brain - may be available in just a decade.

"When I look further out, say 10 to 20 years from now, I believe the technology that we are developing today will eventually be used in smart brain implants," IMEC manger Wolfgang Eberle told Electronics Weekly.

"And such implants could replace and repair damaged brain tissue. Or fill brain cavities caused by tumors, accidents, or brain infarcts."

According to Eberle, a number of current electronic devices already "talk" to the brain, including Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) probes designed to relieve symptoms related to Parkinson's, depression and OCD.

In addition, IMEC has designed small electrodes (10µm) capable of stimulating small groups of nerve cells - along with a "closed-loop" system where signals from brain cells are measured and used to "steer" the applied stimuli.

"With the help of imaging and 3D prototyping technology, it will be possible to create highly precise 3D implants, such as are already used today to replace damaged bone tissue," he added.