Why type on a keyboard when your brain can connect to a computer? That's a question that DARPA will pose as it seeks to develop an implant for the human brain that will allow the mind to connect to the digital world.

The Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) project is focusing on a neural interface that will allow data to be transferred between the brain and digital world. "The interface would serve as a translator, converting between the electrochemical language used by neurons in the brain and the ones and zeros that constitute the language of information technology," said a DARPA news release. And all of this would be accomplished by a device no larger than one cubic centimeter, or size of two stacked nickels.

Even DARPA describes the four-year, $60 million NESD project as "ambitious." Current neural interfaces, such as those used by paralysis victims, jam a tremendous amount of data through 100 channels. NESD would offer clearer and less congested channels that would allow, for example, vision- or hearing-impaired recipients to receive high-quality visual or audio data in their brains.