mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2017


 

From the Editor's desk: The cyborgs are coming, and they are us
11 October 2017, News

Many of the most exciting and life-improving developments in electronics are happening on the biomedical and cybernetics fronts, but they also have the potential to be truly terrifying.

Consider the case of Neil Harbisson, an artist born with the unfortunate affliction of colour blindness – not one of the common types that cause people to confuse certain colours with others, but a much rarer condition called achromatopsia, meaning he can only see in black and white, with no colour perception at all. With help from engineers and surgeons, Harbisson has become the world’s first ‘eyeborg,’ a clever name for an ingenious solution that has changed his life by giving him a way of perceiving colour.

The solution looks like a sort of antenna, with a camera on one end pointing in the direction he is facing and the other end implanted in the back of his skull. A circuit in the antenna converts the images captured by the camera into an audio signal whose frequency changes depending on what he is looking at. Much like a cochlear implant, this audio signal literally vibrates through his skull. Over the course of more than 10 years using the system, he has memorised the colours that correspond to different sounds, effectively augmenting his sight using sound.

After a while, incredibly, he even started to dream in colour. “When I started to dream in colour is when I felt that the software and my brain had united because in my dream it was my brain creating electronic sounds, it was not the software, and that’s when I started to feel like a cyborg. It had become an extension of my senses,” he said. A Wi-Fi interface has even been added to the antenna, allowing him to ‘see’images sent directly from a mobile phone. Potentially this could even result in direct skull-to-skull communication with users of similar devices.

On the subject of brain-to-brain communication, researchers from the University of Washington created an experiment that allowed one participant to control the movement of another participant’s finger. Person A wore an electroencephalography (EEG) cap while playing a video game, and when he saw an enemy he wanted to shoot he would think about pressing a button.

Across campus, person B had the same game playing but with the monitor behind him so he couldn’t see what was going on. Wearing a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil (a device that can emit a focused electrical current) positioned directly over the part of the brain that controlled the movement of his finger, person B involuntarily twitched his finger to shoot the enemy each time person A thought about shooting them. According to person B, the first time this happened he didn’t even realise his hand had moved. Similar techniques have helped give paralysed people the ability to control their limbs by triggering robotic actuators that respond to their thoughts, but being able to control someone’s movements remotely by thought alone, without their conscious knowledge, is as troubling as it is amazing.

People are also increasingly implanting microchips into their bodies, for beneficial reasons such as access control. In an era when cybersecurity is such a profound problem, this is a logical solution as biometrics are commonly seen as the most secure form of identity verification currently available to us. Of course, implanted microchips could also be used to track a person’s whereabouts, with or without their knowledge; to say most people would not be very comfortable with this is an understatement.

One company in the US has given its employees the option of having themselves implanted with RFID chips to control their access to secure areas, photocopiers, office computers etc., and to share business cards, store medical/health information, and be used as payment at RFID-enabled terminals. A Swedish outfit called BioHax has been hired to implant the rice grain-sized devices into the webbing between the thumb and forefinger of consenting employees, but DIY kits have also begun popping up for sale on the Internet for brave souls who trust their own surgical skills enough.

Breakthroughs in cybernetics like these are just the tip of the iceberg, and their true potential is only just being explored. The cyborg revolution is undoubtedly coming – hopefully it will be for the betterment of mankind and not lead to its destruction as often portrayed in movies like The Terminator.

Brett van den Bosch

Editor


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Technews Publishing
Tel: +27 11 543 5800
Fax: +27 11 787 8052
Email: malckey@technews.co.za
www: www.technews.co.za
  Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Electronics news digest
    31 January 2018, News
    South Africa • Reunert delivered strong results for fiscal 2017, with revenue of R9,77 billion representing a 15% year-on-year increase and profit increasing by 19% to R1,14 billion. Headline earnings ...
  • Don’t be fooled by substandard, cheap antennas
    31 January 2018, Poynting Antennas, This Week's Editor's Pick, News, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless
    Poynting has issued a public service announcement warning that it is seeing a large number of sub-standard antennas being sold to the public.
  • From the editor's desk: IoT protocols battle it out
    31 January 2018, Technews Publishing, News
    As the number of Internet of Things (IoT) applications grows, so too does the number of protocols supporting this proliferation. While each protocol has its own strengths and weaknesses, the resulting ...
  • Bird Technologies and Comtest launch new product in SA
    31 January 2018, Comtest, News
    Comtest Solutions recently hosted Bird Technologies’ sales manager, Mike Gathergood, at its Gauteng offices, as part of an extensive tour across the EMEA region he services, with a two-pronged objective. ...
  • SKA confirms synchronisation system designs
    31 January 2018, News
    One of the most critical and challenging design aspects of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project, namely time synchronisation, came a step closer to resolution recently when the board ...
  • Monash offering engineering degrees
    31 January 2018, News
    Monash South Africa (MSA) has announced its academic offering for 2018 will be expanding, by offering engineering degrees within its expanded Faculty of Business, Engineering and Technology. The first ...
  • NWU speech research group joins engineering faculty
    31 January 2018, News
    The Multilingual Speech Technology research group (MuST) within the North-West University is joining forces with the NWU Faculty of Engineering in 2018. This research group focuses its efforts on the ...
  • Company profile: Connector Technology
    31 January 2018, Connector Technology, News
    Stretching back to 1992, Connector Technology has been providing customised connector, cabling and harnessing solutions for the South African electronics manufacturing industry. Today the company has ...
  • From the editor's desk: Innovation + education + incubation = a winning formula?
    EMP 2018 Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook, Technews Publishing, News
    There’s never been a better time for someone with an innovative idea to see it realised with a working design, but successfully launching a product in a crowded market has arguably never been harder. ...
  • High-speed design expert completes SA seminar
    15 November 2017, EDA Technologies, News
    Internationally renowned expert Lee Ritchey returned to South Africa in October to present a course on high-speed printed circuit board (PCB) design. This follows a similar visit in March last year, ...
  • Electronics news digest
    15 November 2017, News
    South Africa • The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) hosted the inaugural Fifth Generation (5G) forum meeting from 1-2 November 2017 in Sandton. It stressed to the public that ...
  • Eskom Expo rewards young scientists
    15 November 2017, News
    The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) 2017 recognised some of the exceptional projects on display at an awards ceremony held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg.

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.