You still can't download your brain — but we're one step closer to controlling robots with our minds. Researchers at Brown University have developed the first brain-computer interface that doesn't require being physically tethered to a computer. Earlier instances have allowed wearers to control cursors on a computer screen or manipulate robotic arms, but ExtremeTech reports that until now the wearer's motion was limited because the devices couldn't be used wirelessly. The new technology allows a subject to move freely during use, enabling humans to have a more natural lifestyle while using the device. The device can also be used to collect data on brain activity, and researchers can now more easily study animals embedded with the device in non-laboratory environments.
The new brain-computer interface is about the size of a matchbox and sits on top of the wearer's skull. A thin wire connected to a 100-electrode chip extends from the device and is implanted through the skull and into the motor cortex. It can report data to a computer up to one meter away by wireless radio. The device runs for seven hours on a single charge of its 200mAh Li-ion battery, and it can be recharged by wireless induction. However, it might not be ready for human tests — the device heated up by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit during charging, and the team had to cool off its subjects with chilled water.