Last month I had the opportunity to speak at the Digital Health Summit during the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the country’s largest trade show focused on technology and innovation. CES is filled with exciting breakthrough technologies, and the Digital Health Summit focuses on the tech that’s advancing and reforming medicine.
The presentation centered on Battelle’s vision for neurotechnology and focused on the “connections” that people make in their everyday lives and how advances in direct neural interfaces can change the way that people achieve connections to what is most important to them. Making connections is an extremely personal experience and we all have our own views of what it means to connect. For example, for somebody that is living with paralysis resulting from a spinal cord injury, connecting means to reconnect the brain to the body to regain movement.
Video: Battelle's Grand Vision for Neurotechnology Presentation with Dr. Justin Sanchez
At Battelle, we have worked for a number of years with Ian, who suffered an accident that left him a C5 quadriplegic. Using Battelle’s NeuroLife® brain interface system and sleeve system technology, Ian reconnected his brain to his own hand, bypassing the damaged spinal cord, in order to reanimate his muscles. Using our life-changing sleeve system, Ian was able to open and close his hand, stir a cup of coffee, and even play a video game.
Going Beyond Medicine
Making connections is not just for people living with medical conditions. There are many experiences in everyday life that we desire to make a connection with our brain. It could be in the executive board room where we need a little boost in our brain and need to connect with our peers to solve a complex problem. Or it could even be in the area of sports and athletics where we want to connect with a coach or trainer to learn faster to accelerate performance. Neurotechnology can also play a vital role in these areas to create new breakthroughs.
While these concepts may seem like experiences of the future, they are very much the technology of today. The future of neurotechnology is now and with the help of an audience member, I gave a live demonstration at the Digital Health Summit of how our sleeve system can enhance athletic activities using a technology we call Muscle Memories. This technology allows our sleeve to read movements from the muscles of, say, a pro golfer and store them in a database.
These muscle movements can then be programmed back into the sleeve system to stimulate another person’s muscles. Our audience volunteer used our Muscle Memories technology to send information to the sleeve system to correct my golf swing with the press of a button. Imagine using this technology directly while connecting with your coach or at a distance and through the internet while at home in your living room. The ability to turn thoughts into action from near and far has the potential to form many new types of connections and enhance abilities, whether that’s perfecting our putting or learning skills we never had before.
Video: Interview with Dr. Justin Sanchez at Digital Health Live CES 2020
To learn more about Battelle’s work in the field of Neurotechnology visit our website, and ask yourself, what do you want to do with your brain in the future?
About the Author
Dr. Justin Sanchez is the Life Sciences Research Technical Fellow at Battelle Memorial Institute where he provides strategic direction and technical leadership for health, national security and commercial businesses. Previously, he served as the Director (SES) of the Biological Technologies Office (BTO) at DARPA where he developed breakthrough technologies and capabilities in areas of neurotechnology, gene editing/synthetic biology, and outpacing infectious diseases.