Current brain-computer interface systems are extremely limited in their capability, so DARPA is looking to blow them wide open. The plan with its recently launched Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program is to create a tiny implant that provides "unprecedented signal resolution and data-transfer bandwidth between the human brain and the digital world." Specifically, it aims to talks clearly and individually with each of up to one million neurons in a given part of the brain.
With the implant, hearing and sight disabilities could be compensated for though other applications are of course possible (coughcyborgswithlasereyescough).
The project is ambitious and thoroughly complex, to say the least. DARPA states "integrated breakthroughs" in eight different fields -- including neuroscience and low-power electronics, to name a couple -- will be required for success. To expedite matters, they will be recruiting stakeholders willing to give up the cutting edge prototyping and manufacturing services needed on a "pre-competitive basis" in exchange for research and commercial rights. To that effect, they will hold a "Proposers Day" meeting February 2 and 3.