Three technology powerhouses are partnering to overcome the challenges of travel, especially jet lag. Blackrock Microsystems, researchers from Northwestern University’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are combining forces to develop a wireless implant that controls the recipient’s circadian clock. The immediate goal of the project is to cut recovery time from disrupted sleep cycles by 50%.

The implant project is called Normalizing Timing of Rhythms Across Networks of Circadian Clocks (NTRAIN). This is just one initiative in a larger DARPA program called ADAPTER (Advanced Acclimation and Protection Tools for Environmental Readiness). In addition to jet lag, the ADAPTER program addresses fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, and weakened immune response.

When exposed to light, the NTRAIN implant will stimulate the recipient’s cells to make sleep-regulating peptides. The idea is the implant will manage the recipient’s natural circadian systems to create precise doses of peptides. The desired result is a system that helps a recipient feel refreshed and ready even after lengthy travel because the traveler’s body will act as if it were in its home time zone.

One key to the NTRAIN project is that it won’t require drugs to help users’ bodies throw off jet lag. Blackrock Microsystems founder and chairman Florian Solzbacher projected the possibility that the technology could have applications in the general population for counteracting the toll of long-distance travel or long work hours. Solzbacher also foresees further applications with neurological disorders.