Another science fiction trope may be moving closer to science reality. Smartphone and tablet-maker Samsung and medical device company Medtronic have joined forces to create something startling: Neural implants that can communicate with phones and tablets to pass information to doctors and send signals directly into the user’s brain.
If you’re anything like me and grew up on a staple of shows like Doctor Who and Star Trek, or movies like Terminator, your gut reaction might be: “NO! DON’T SURRENDER YOURSELF TO THE MACHINES! DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN?!”
Linking our brains to our phones? There’s no way this could go wrong…
Paranoid sci-fi fantasies aside, this could pave the way for some truly revolutionary and real-time care for people living with neurological conditions and movement disorders like tremors or dystonia.
Medtronic’s neurostimulators use electronic signals to block symptoms of disease activity—the hope is that this partnership will allow data gathered from neurostimulators to be sent to a person’s smartphone, tablet, or other device. Doctors could then gather that data remotely to better monitor their patients’ pain levels or disease activity.
This is one of those great examples of science catching up with fiction and even overtaking it in unexpected ways. Cyborgs—flesh and blood people enhanced with technology—are already real and walking among us. The difference here is that technology is helping bring more personalized care and a better quality of life to people living with chronic conditions. So…all hail our robot overlords!