A couple of exciting recent developments will have a big impact on medical device design in the future:

The technology surrounding brain-computer interface seems to be advancing quickly. Toyota has a project in which they are using a bike helmet equipped with EEG sensors to identify the brain signals associated with a bycicle rider thinking either “shift up” or “shift down”. The signal is then sent to the concept bike’s electronic derailleur and the shift is accomplished.

Even more exciting is a project being conducted at the University of Maryland, in which a sensor-laden cap combined with interface software can translate a person’s brain signals to allow them to move a computer cursor and even manipulate a physical prototype model. The researchers believe that a viable brain-computer interface can be developed within several years.

The possibilities that this technology opens up – computer and electro-mechanical device manipulation using just the mind – is mind boggling.