When the connection between brain and limb is severed, a robotic arm could bridge the gap. Last year the BrainGate research team, including Stanford's Krishna Shenoy and Brown University's John Donoghue, helped a paralyzed woman operate a sophisticated robotic arm to sip coffee with just her mind. And a different patient was able to feed herself string cheese through thought with University of Pittsburgh neurobiology professor Andrew Schwartz and his team's robotic arm called Hector.
Meanwhile, the international Walk Again Project led by Duke University Center for Neuroengineering co-director and medical doctor Miguel Nicolelis has a more ambitious goal: a whole a brain-controlled robotic exoskeleton.
But such intense control currently requires surgical interventions. "My guess is invasive technologies will be the choice in the future if you really want to control a robot hand like in Star Wars, for example, where they put this robot hand on Luke Skywalker," Erdogmus said.