Talk #76, 12/5/12

Repurposing Vestigial Ear Muscles as a New Mode of Human Command Output

Dr. Sandy L. Heck, MD
Founder and CEO, Reach Bionics

The human body retains a little-known system of vestigial ear muscles which originally evolved to orient the ears towards sound, but which have not been functionally used for millions of years. This ability exists in other mammals and, while no longer significant in humans, the muscles remain in nearly everyone. Reach Bionics is developing a novel technology capable of capturing signals from these muscles and repurposing them to provide people with a new mode of command output–a virtual 3rd arm. Because this muscle system originally evolved to focus, or “point”, our hearing, it has the potential to serve as an innate and intuitive controller. Reach Bionics’ technology aims to awaken this neuromuscular system, and use the coordinated muscle activity that once pointed our ears towards sounds to now wirelessly operate a computer, direct a motorized wheelchair, or generally control our digital environment.