A new, tiny electrode in development could make it easier for computers to interface directly with our brains. Described as a "stealthy neural interface," the set-up involves a microthread electrode — just seven microns in diameter — that researchers claim is 10 times smaller than its closest competition. The device's small size makes it less obtrusive, potentially making it able to stick around in the brain for lengthy periods of time. The thread itself is made of carbon fiber, making it highly conductive, and features a plastic coating so that it can ignore signals from most neurons, and focus on just one. Meanwhile, a conductive gel pad helps make the membrane-to-electrode signal even clearer.
Recent tests at the University of Michigan saw the electrodes used on rats, where they were able to accurately detect electrical signals coming from a single neuron — which could be incredibly useful for future mind-controlled prosthetics, or maybe even a few rounds of mind-controlled Pong. The technology is still in development, and the team says that it's not quite ready for clinical trials, but according to professor Daryl Kipke, we could see see prosthetic devices that connect directly to our brains within the next 10 years.