This is Your Brain on Microchips

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!

robot dancing

Ronald Ledsen

Ronald Ledsen

After emigrating from his native Sweden, Ronald spent a stint in the Merchant Marines while trying to work out what he wanted to do with his life. He discovered a love of writing while helping a friend write anonymous Harry Potter fan-fiction online; he discovered meaning to his writing when he began journaling after an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Ronald is most relaxed when spending quiet time with his wife, two sons, and hyperactive cat.

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