DARPA scientists and researchers have their hands in lots of different areas. From robots to ammunition to wearables and beyond, they are far reaching to say the least. Their latest project is a somewhat unnerving to me though. DARPA are working on a cortical implant that would give the user an enhanced visual experience.  I say it unnerves me because I really can’t stand anything near my eyes, so for me personally the idea of a smart contact lens is my worst nightmare.  I have to admit that the idea and the tech behind it is very cool. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the ability to regain lost sight or acquire a whole new field of vision, all from a tiny implant? The downside is that it has to merge with your DNA, so it does have its drawbacks!

The new concept is called a ‘cortical modem’ and it would connect directly into a person’s DNA, to give them the ability to see a head up display in much the same way as the what Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character was capable of seeing.

The cortical modem has been constructed through the field of optogenetics. This is a form of gene therapy in which the neurons of a person are bombarded with photons in order to manipulate a specific cell response. In theory, a small cortical implant using optogenetics technology would be able to restore a persons’ vision, help correct countless neurological disorders, or may even be able to produce a complex video display within a persons’ visual cortex.

According to DARPA scientists, a cortical modem implant will not be replacing augmented and virtual reality devices anytime soon. This coupled with he fact that most gene therapy techniques are still relatively new, so they are considered by many to be too risky for human applications. Research in this field is therefore currently restricted to animal trials.

How long will it be before research such as this gets the go ahead for human testing? Oculus Rift and VR headsets maybe the gadgets of the moment, but who knows what is around the cornea?

[Image via 1mobile]

SOURCE: Tech Gen