DARPA Interface Restores Memories
In November 2013, DARPA launched the Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program to develop an implantable, closed-loop neural interface that could restore your memory. Specifically, it was developed for military personnel suffering from brain injury or illness, but the potential impact on people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's is notable as well.
Now, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California have created the first successful implementation of a proof-of-concept system that actually restored memory function.
Working with patient volunteers being treated for epilepsy, the researchers used surgically implanted electrodes to record brain activity as the volunteers performed a visual memory test. The participants were shown a simple image and asked to identify the image after brief delay. By analyzing the recordings associated with correct responses, the researchers were able to construct a model that improved short term memory by 37 percent, and long-term memory by 35 percent.
The electrodes used the model to help correct problems made by damaged and deteriorating brains. It’s important to note that this proof-of-concept doesn’t replace brain activity but gives it more of a boost. The work could lead to further advances in memory and mind restoration and preservation.
Black Box is a Virtual Reality Gym
Black Box VR is an Idaho-based company pioneering virtual reality workouts.
Winner of the Best Startup award at CES 2018, the company created a resistance-based workout so you can hit the gym in VR. Black Box VR is kind of like one of the more interesting plot points of Ready Player One that they leave out of the movie entirely.
Founded by self-described fitness fanatics Ryan DeLuca and Preston Lewis Black Box VR is the marriage between a Bowflex and a VR rig.
The entire experience takes place in a boutique gym, you strap in, put on the headset, and you begin your workout. The box's artificial intelligence guides you through various scenarios, like a combat arena, which target specific parts of your body as you punch incoming attackers. Like video games, it has a leaderboard to grip the competitive spirit. The company plans to open its first boutique gym in San Francisco this year.
According to the company, the Black Box will not only help you live a healthier lifestyle, but also gives you a "leveled up body."
Pre-Crime Unit a Very Close Reality
What makes sci-fi shows like Black Mirror and movies like Minority Report so gripping is the feasibility. Digital cloning seems obnoxious until a version of your personality is held captive in a digital product. The same was true with pre-crime, the predictive crime fighting unit at the center of the Tom Cruise-helmed film — it was a terrifying prediction until it became a reality.
According to Digital Trends, Cortica is an Israeli company that recently partnered with Best Group in India to analyze video feeds from closed-circuit televisions in public places. By applying artificial intelligence to the surveillance systems, the company thinks that it can look for "behavioral anomalies" to be able to identify people about to commit a violent crime.
The software is based off of government systems that track micro-expressions to predict terrorist activity.
According to Digital Trends, Best Group is only going to use the software to monitor and improve safety and efficiency in public places. However, it could one day be deployed in drones and satellites to not only track individuals, but monitor groups of people. For example, it could give law enforcement a heads up that a peaceful protest is about to turn into a riot.
You know, you can only ask, 'what do I have to hide?' for so long before you realize that you’re always being watched. Next, they’ll mount tracking devices and retinal scanners to the bionic spiders from last week to track you down.
This is Engineering By Design.