DARPA is at it again with another project that is both astounding and terrifying. The agency is developing a microchip that will be inserted in every soldier's brain, with the intent of curing the body and improving mental health. This project is called ElectRX. How will this happen? The image below gives a general schematic of the ElectRX concept in practice.
The chip should be able to send electromagnetic pulses to specific nerve endings in an effort to initiate healing for illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis. DARPA is not only intending to cure the body. The agency has already been conducting a series of experiments on how electromagnetic signals from a chip can cure mental illnesses such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). ElectRX would therefore control and monitor nerve impulses after being implanted via needle.
In fact, DARPA has a working chip that it's been using to conduct a series of experiments that will help the agency improve its design. This research has shown how electromagnetic pulses could improve PTSD imbalances in the brain. So far, major obstacles are the size of the chip and the lack of precision in stimulating the correct nerves. The current prototype is the size of a deck of cards, which poses an obvious problem if this chip is supposed to be injected. Also, ouch!
The biggest obstacle lies in being able to target nerves precisely, which becomes more difficult due to the fact that the brains and bodies of individuals are different. That means that the chip much be customized in order to have a chance at being precise.
DARPA recently received $78 million to continue developing this concept. Other ideas the agency is developing include 3D-printed food pills, skin and, possibly, body parts.
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