Technology, biology turn thought into action

Taking technology to the brain to help paralyzed people reconnect with the world.

After 2,000 cumulative days of studying BrainGate's four participants, no safety-related concerns have surfaced, Donoghue said.

Donoghue noted that BrainGate is still in its infancy and is only being demonstrated. While he sees more ambitious uses for the technology, "we're a very long way from that," he said.

The movement BrainGate allows may not be fluid motions, but represent major advancements for paralyzed people, he said. "This may not be an elegant motion, but to a person who can't do anything, we have the ability to give them some control," he said.

Future possible applications of the technology may include restoring limb movement by attaching BrainGate to motorized exoskeleton-like devices on a paralyzed person's arms, for instance. As that person thought about moving an arm, BrainGate would translate those electrical impulses, relay motion intentions to the devices' motor and create movement.

While BrainGate's current uses involve helping the injured, in the future it could potentially find its way into healthy people, although that is a distant scenario, Donoghue said.

"There is the question of how to get information into the brain to instantly use it, like a language, but that is way, way out there," he said.

Donoghue hopes future incarnations of BrainGate's computer system will come in a streamlined, smaller and portable form capable of fitting on a wheelchair. The system's next generation of brain sensors may use wireless technology to transmit data from a patient to the computer array.

"We use infrared to go through the skin," he said. "It can be controlled. Radio frequency goes everywhere."

While some may question science being used in such a way, Donoghue said that severe injuries are not conditions people seek.

"People who are paralyzed never not wish to be paralyzed," he said. "I am convinced this is going to work. In the 1950s no one would have thought of placing wires in humans."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?