Current and Future Applications

There are many applications for these types of technologies. Here are some examples of research that is currently underway!

Military
Current Weapons / Tools
Future Weapons / Tools
Commercial
Educational / Human Performance
Medical
Current Devices / Solutions
Future Devices / Solutions
  • A team of researchers are investigating how EEG could lead to earlier diagnosis of autism.
  • A US Darpa initiative called N3 will use optics, acoustics, and electromagnetics to record neural activity, and/or send signals back to the brain at high speed and resolution. The technologies must be either completely noninvasive interfaces that are entirely external to the body or minutely invasive interface systems that include nano-transducers that can be temporarily and non-surgically delivered to the brain to improve signal resolution. The teams will:
    • The Battelle team aims to develop a minutely invasive interface system that pairs an external transceiver with electromagnetic nano-transducers that are non-surgically delivered to neurons of interest. The nano-transducers would convert electrical signals from the neurons into magnetic signals that can be recorded and processed by the external transceiver, and vice versa, to enable bidirectional communication.
    • The Carnegie Mellon University team aims to develop a completely noninvasive device that uses an acousto-optical approach to record from the brain and interfering electrical fields to write to specific neurons. The team will use ultrasound waves to guide light into and out of the brain to detect neural activity. The team’s write approach exploits the non-linear response of neurons to electric fields to enable localized stimulation of specific cell types.
    • The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory team aims to develop a completely noninvasive, coherent optical system for recording from the brain.
    • The PARC team aims to develop a completely noninvasive acousto-magnetic device for writing to the brain. Their approach pairs ultrasound waves with magnetic fields to generate localized electric currents for neuromodulation. The hybrid approach offers the potential for localized neuromodulation deeper in the brain.
    • The Rice University team aims to develop a minutely invasive, bidirectional system for recording from and writing to the brain. For the recording function, the interface will use diffuse optical tomography to infer neural activity by measuring light scattering in neural tissue. To enable the write function, the team will use a magneto-genetic approach to make neurons sensitive to magnetic fields.
    • The Teledyne team aims to develop a completely noninvasive, integrated device that uses micro optically pumped magnetometers to detect small, localized magnetic fields that correlate with neural activity. The team will use focused ultrasound for writing to neurons.
  • US Darpa has selected seven teams of researchers to begin work on the Agency’s Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program, which has as its goal the development of a closed-loop system that treats diseases by modulating the activity of peripheral nerves (article here).
    • Circuit Therapeutics plans to further develop its experimental optogenetic methods for treating neuropathic pain.
    • A Columbia University team will pursue fundamental science to support the use of non-invasive, targeted ultrasound for neuromodulation.
    • A team at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health will seek to map the nerve pathways that underlie intestinal inflammation. They will also explore the use of neurostimulation technologies based on the cochlear implant (used for hearing loss) but adapted to modulate activity of the vagus nerve in response to biofeedback signals.
    • Johns Hopkins University aims to explore the root mechanisms of inflammatory bowel disease and the impact of sacral nerve stimulation on its progression.
    • A Massachusetts Institute of Technology team will aim to advance its established work in magnetic nano-particles for localized, precision in vivo neuromodulation through thermal activation of neurons.
    • A Purdue University team will study inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and its responsiveness to vagal nerve stimulation through the neck.
    • A team at the University of Texas will examine the use of vagal nerve stimulation to induce neural plasticity for the treatment of post-traumatic stress.

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