In June 2014, Julian Pinto kicked the first ball of the World Cup. He isn’t a soccer star or a celebrity, but his kick attracted quite a bit of attention—because it signified a major breakthrough in brain-interface technology. Confused? Well, Pinto is paralyzed from the waist down, and he kicked the ball with his mind, using a robotic exoskeleton. If you think it sounds like something from a science fiction novel, you’re not alone: even Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, who headed the research, once had his doubts.