Accessibility Information

Users of assistive technologies such as screen readers should use the following link to activate Accessibility Mode before continuing: Learn more and Activate accessibility mode.

A -- SN07-43 Human Assisted Neural Devices (HAND)

Solicitation Number: SN07-43
Agency: Other Defense Agencies
Office: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Location: Contracts Management Office
  • Print
Special Notice
Added: July 17, 2007 Modified: July 19, 2007Track Changes
Human Assisted Neural Devices RFI, SN07-43, Responses Due 4 P.M. ET, August 15, 2007, POC: Dr. Geoffrey Ling, DARPA/DSO; Phone: (571) 218-4674; Fax: (703) 807-4956.


The Human Assisted Neural Devices (HAND) program at DARPA has provided the basis for a number of assistive devices controlled, in part, by neural signals provided by the user. There is continued interest in discovering the underlying processing structures the brain uses to perform tasks, with the eventual goal of leveraging these processes with algorithms and models that can control external assistive devices.

An approach that takes into account the distributed nature of neural functioning, the dynamics of neural plasticity and changes to functional networks, as well as analysis that encompass the wide spatial and temporal scales of neural processing is more appropriately descriptive of the underlying information processes of the brain. Consequently, a new experimental and theoretical paradigm is needed if we are to advance beyond incremental advances in development.

Information Sought

This RFI seeks information on relevant technologies and concepts that could form the basis for a DARPA program to develop a HAND Phase Next. This RFI seeks methods of analysis and interpretation that will enable the control of next generation assistive devices that seek to interpret and treat issues of control and feedback that are more analogous to processes used by the brain. Moreover, this RFI is interested in methods which will provide more robust control of dexterous systems while reducing compilation of data, training time on device use, and alleviating computational burdens.

Specifically, this RFI seeks information on relevant technologies, capabilities, and concepts in the following areas:

1. Cross-regional data extraction: Neural functions are anatomically focused in certain areas of the brain, but the underlying task processes are distributed across several regions. By accessing the processes at numerous nodes in the brain, more robust control methods can be developed

2. Multi-signal extraction: Information transmission between neurons is mediated by chemical and electrical means. This RFI seeks methods that can interpret and extract information from a broad spectrum of transmission methods that might include neurotransmitter levels and release/reuptake, pre- and post-synaptic potentials, and action potentials.

3. Rule-based interpretation: Methods which attempt to determine the underlying principles of information organization and transmission between neurons and synapses may be more successful in establishing more robust methods of controlling devices that rely on less data.

4. Multi-modality sensory feedback: This RFI seeks new methods of providing feedback to the user separate from visual cues. More natural ways to interpret sensory feedback may lead to faster acquisition of device use and ease of interpretation of new stimuli.

5. Plasticity: Current methods of control rely on algorithms which must be adjusted as functional networks change and users adapt to new tasks. This RFI seeks new methods which allow interfaces to automatically compensate for the adaptive nature of the brain.


DARPA appreciates responses from all capable and qualified sources, including but not limited to, universities, university affiliated research centers, and private or public companies.

Responses should adhere to the following formatting and outline instructions:

1. Format specifications include 12 point font, single spaced, single-sided, 8.5 by 11 inches paper, with 1-inch margins. All submissions must be made electronically (as described below), and be in one of the following formats: Adobe PDF, or Microsoft Word.

2. Cover Page (1 page)

a. Title

b. Organization

c. Responders technical and administrative points of contact (names, addresses, phones and fax numbers, and email addresses)

3. Technical Ideas (up to 5 pages)

a. Executive summary

b. A discussion of the capability/challenge addressed (from your perspective)

c. Technical response. Your discussion should address the following: What is your proposed innovative technology/concept? How does it address the specific capability/challenge that you identified? What extensions or advances are needed to achieve the HAND Phase Next vision?

4. An optional list of citations, including URLs, if available.

Additionally, we request that you submit a presentation, not to exceed four slides, appended to the response (Microsoft Word users should use the Insert Object command). This should contain:

One (1) slide diagramming a new paradigm for the operation of external assistive devices incorporating both control and sensory feedback.

One (1) slide providing further detail and explanation on this strategy.

One (1) slide that outlines the experimental paradigm used to generate the data to build and evaluate this new approach.

One (1) slide that discusses potential innovative assistive devices that could be built upon a novel interface to the brain.

Respondents are encouraged to be as succinct as possible while at the same time providing insight.

DARPA will employ an electronic upload process for response submissions. NO PROPRIETARY OR CLASSIFIED INFORMATION SHALL BE INCLUDED IN THE RFI RESPONSE. Responses to this RFI are due no later than 1600 EDT (4:00 p.m.), on August 15, 2007. Responders may find submission guidance at:

DARPA will host a website in support of RFI SN07-43, Human Assisted Neural Devices. The Website will contain information supplementary to this document such as Question & Answer lists in the event that clarifications are needed. In addition, the website will allow for potential collaborators to upload and share information prior to formal submission to the RFI. The URL for the web site is Responders are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to register at in order to seek out potential collaborators who may be able to enhance their response to the RFI. In the event of any discrepancies between material published on this website and FedBizOpps, the FedBizOpps announcement takes precedence.


This is an RFI issued solely for information and new program planning purposes; the RFI does not constitute a formal solicitation for proposals or proposal abstracts. In accordance with FAR 15.201(e), responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Submission is voluntary and is not required to propose to subsequent Broad Agency Announcements (if any) or research solicitations (if any) on this topic. DARPA will not provide reimbursement for costs incurred in responding to this RFI. No proprietary or classified information should be submitted. Respondents are advised that DARPA is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received, or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI.

In the event of a BAA or other solicitation, all information submitted in response to the RFI will be considered public information and will be provided on a public website. NO PROPRIETARY OR CLASSIFIED INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE RFI RESPONSE. It is the responders? responsibility to ensure the material has been approved for public release by the organization that funded the research.

Point of Contact

Geoffrey Ling, DARPA Program Manager, Phone (571) 218-4943, Fax (703) 516-8799,

Other Defense Agencies, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Contracts Management Office, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA, 22203-1714, UNITED STATES
Geoffrey Ling, DARPA Program Manager, DSO, Phone (571) 218-4674, Fax (703) 807-4956, Email