The soldier of the future will be a robot?or a man-machine, anyway. Maybe the rest of us will be too. The military is looking for ways to send signals directly to a soldier's brain, without having to go through another human being. They've discovered a unexpected direct route to the brain: the human tongue.
Researchers at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition want to be able to send signals from cameras and sonar into soldiers? brains, so that they can gain hearing and sight of animals like owls and snakes. Our tongues are ultra-sensitive receptors, which anyone realizes who has ever had a filling or a cap put in. The tongue investigates the new addition to the mouth unceasingly, until it knows every nook and cranny.
In order to do this, the Florida researchers have invented a helmet called a Brain Port, which is worn on the head and connected to the tongue via a narrow strip of plastic. When researchers tested the Brain Port on blind people, they could find doorways and catch balls that were thrown to them. Scuba divers can sense how deep underwater they are.
One person who tested the device says he could feel the outline of an image on his tongue. Using images broadcast to his brain from the Brain Port, he was able to easily locate a small object underwater.
Our brains are superior to those of other animals, but our senses are not?they atrophied as our brains grew and took over their functions. With this device, we will be able to evolve even further and become like animals?REALLY SMART animals.
Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
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