However, Levin says this breakthrough doesn't only apply to cases of damaged or missing sense organs, but could also benefit sensory augmentation.
"You may want to increase your sensory capacity with sensors that normal people usually don't have," he said. "This opens the possibility for attaching all sorts of peripherals to your body."
Levin also notes a long-term objective of applying this technology to robots, giving them an adaptive flexibility that will let them still function when they're damaged or altered.
But how is this data transfer possible if the sensory organ is only connected to the spinal cord?
"You can imagine that information that comes from any sensory structure – any part of the body – is tagged in some way that uses a unique identifier," said Blackiston. "So, the source of that information is not nearly as important as what the brain is sensing."
Blackiston suggests thinking about this process in terms of television.
A TV "understands that some info is audio data, some of it is visual data and thus sends it to the speakers or screen," he said. "That's all coming from one signal -– one pipeline –- to the central computer or the brain of the TV."