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Magnetism Plays Key Roles in DARPA Research to Develop Brain-Machine Interface without Surgery

Magnetics Magazine

Posted on Jun 7, 2021

Columbus, Ohio (June 7, 2021)—Some of the most exotic research involving magnetism is sponsored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA. One of their programs, literally, boggles the mind as it delves into areas once considered the realm of science fiction and could lead to new medical breakthroughs. 

Under its Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program, scientists at prestigious research labs are exploring how to make wearable brain-machine interfaces that could ultimately enable diverse national security applications such as control of active cyber defense systems and swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles, or teaming with computer systems to multitask during complex missions. 

The agency recently awarded funding to six organizations for the second phase of the program which began in 2018. Taking the lead are Battelle Memorial Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Rice University, and Teledyne Scientific along with other institutions serving as collaborators. 

Several of the projects are aligned closely with magnetism effects and technology. We reached out to DARPA and the project teams for details about two of them, particularly – Brainstorm project led by Battelle and MOANA project let by Rice University.

“DARPA is preparing for a future in which a combination of unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, and cyber operations may cause conflicts to play out on timelines that are too short for humans to effectively manage with current technology alone,” said Al Emondi, the N3 program manager. “By creating a more accessible brain-machine interface that doesn’t require surgery to use, DARPA could deliver tools that allow mission commanders to remain meaningfully involved in dynamic operations that unfold at rapid speed.” 

For the military’s primarily able-bodied population to benefit from neurotechnology, nonsurgical interfaces are required. Yet, in fact, similar technology could greatly benefit clinical populations as well. By removing the need for surgery, N3 systems seek to expand the pool of patients who can access treatments such as deep brain stimulation to manage neurological illnesses.  

Read the full article here.

Media Contacts

Katy Delaney
Director, Media Relations
Office: 1.614.424.7208
Email: delaneyk@battelle.org 


T.R. Massey

Senior Media Specialist
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Email: masseytr@battelle.org