A new chip that can be implanted in the brains of people with traumatic brain injury is being designed by ARM after the chip design company teamed up with researchers in the United States.
“The chips are designed to help people with brain and spinal injuries, and will sit inside the skull,” an article by BBC reads. “The aim is to develop a system that not only allows people to carry out tasks, but to receive sensory feedback.”
The project is expected to last about 10 years and researchers told BBC they don’t expect to see benefits from the chip anytime soon.
“ARM is providing the processors for the implants being developed at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE), at the University of Washington,” the BBC reports. “The researchers have already developed an early version of the technology.”
A spokesperson for ARM told reporters that some early prototype devices have already been created, but researchers are now challenged with creating a device that is powerful, but small enough to be inserted into the brain while not generating too much heat.
“The first stage is to design a system on a chip that can transmit signals from the brain to a stimulator implanted in the spinal cord, allowing those with spinal or neurological conditions to control their movements,” the article reads. “But CSNE also wants the device to be able to receive information sent back in the other direction, providing sensory information to the brain.”
Researchers aren’t only trying to read brain signals, but they hope to be able to feed information to the brain, which would allow TBI and spinal cord patients to be able to gauge things like how tightly they are holding something – or how hot or cold an object is.
“Research suggests that this feedback may also help the brain rewire itself, which could help the recovery of people with certain conditions – such as those who have suffered a stroke,” the BBC reports.