7. Debut of the Mind-Controlled Robots

Using a brain implant, a paralyzed stroke victim directed a robotic arm to accomplish basic tasks.  People who cannot control their limbs may soon regain movement and independence.

By Kevin Berger|Friday, December 21, 2012

John Donoghue, the director of the Institute for Brain Science at Brown University, could not contain his excitement. For years he had been working on a revolutionary method to pick up brain signals from paralyzed patients and translate them into commands to move mechanical limbs. If all went well in this experiment, Cathy Hutchinson, a 58-year-old woman who lost the use of her limbs in a stroke, would control a robotic arm and hand and use them to lift a bottle of coffee to her mouth—just by thinking. “Guys,” Donoghue told his collaborators, “buy the most expensive camera we can afford and shoot this in high-definition. This is a historic moment.”