Microsoft’s implants to help users with neurological disorders
TECHNOLOGY should be accessible to all, which includes people who’re differently abled.
That’s what Microsoft believes, and its why the company’s researchers are developing brain implants that can augment an individual’s intelligence.
The implant isn’t necessarily just a device to make the average human smarter. Instead, Microsoft aims to use the implant to help differently abled persons take action with just brain input.
As Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella explains, disability is “basically the ability to detect brain activity”. The company’s research team aims to “give them a language”.
The brain implant will be able to help users with neurological disorders, which often have difficulties in learning or motor functions.
Nadella said the company is also working to assist people with locked-in syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that only allows people to communicate by eye movement.
In the past, Microsoft has successfully developed several technologies to help people with various disabilities. This includes Seeing AI, an app developed by Microsoft that helps the blind understand what’s in front of them.
Microsoft also helped developed a wearable device that helps reduce tremors in those suffering from Parkinson’s.
Known as Project Emma, the device is a watch which transmitted rhythmic vibrations to the wrist. It helps reduce the error signals from the brain which causes the tremors.
The project has helped Parkinson’s patient Emma Lawton regain the ability to draw and write. Lawton was a graphic designer prior to being diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s at 29 years of age.
The Emma watch is part of Microsoft’s research into non-invasive, wearable interventions. With the brain implant, it could be possible to help stop tremors completely, directly from the brain.
Earlier, ZDNet reported that Microsoft employees have submitted a patent for a system that could take action based on brain input. No details are known if Microsoft will be releasing new products based on the requested patent or not.
The Redmond giant, however, isn’t the only one to be looking into brain technologies.
Facebook has shown interest in technology connecting brains to computers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also owns a startup called Neuralink, which is looking into developing brain-machine interfaces.