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DARPA has awarded its first grants to six organizations that are to be the vanguard in developing non-invasive brain-machine interface tool — such as a headset — that would be used to quicken human decision making and actions during conflict.

The first recipients of the funds are Battelle Memorial Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Palo Alto Research Center, Rice University, and Teledyne Scientific. The amounts were not disclosed.

DARPA stands for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; it is the research and innovation wing of the Pentagon.

The goal of the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program is to meet 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,” DARPA said in a release.

Teams will use multiple approaches that use optics, acoustics, and electromagnetics to record neural activity, then ships signals to the brain at high speed and resolution. Some teams will focus on noninvasive interfaces external to the body. Other teams will center on minutely invasive interface systems “that can be temporarily and nonsurgically delivered to the brain to improve signal resolution,” DARPA said.

“Over the past decade, we’ve made remarkable progress with brain-machine interfaces,” DARPA said, in part, in a Tweet on Tuesday. “However, current interfaces require surgery to place electrodes in the brain. Today we announce six teams of researchers who will take us to the nonsurgical future of neurotechnology.”

DARPA said it wants the system ready in four years.

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Category: Science