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When sci-fi movies showcase a scenario with cyborgs and chip-controlled humans, one might wonder if these things are only stuff from the movies. Though the cyborg and the mind-control may be a stretch, brain computer interface (BCI) technology is a reality and a number of companies have already been working on it. Recently, Elon Musk’s brain-implant company Neuralink also got an FDA approval for its first in-human clinical trial.
BCI is a system that enables direct communication and interaction between the brain and an external device without the need for channels such as muscles and nerves. There are several companies that have already started implementing this technology in the medical industry. Here are some of the companies that are intensively working on brain computer interface technology.
Neuralink is a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk in 2016. The company’s goals are to develop implantable brain-computer interfaces that can establish a direct connection between the brain and computers or other external devices. The company wishes to create a brain interface to restore autonomy to those with unmet medical needs. Their BCI is said to be fully implantable and is designed to allow a person to control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go. The company recently got FDA approval after previous rejections on the grounds of lithium battery concerns, and migration and extraction of the device without causing brain damage.
Blackrock Neurotech is a neurotechnology company that specialises in the development of advanced neural interfaces for research and clinical applications. The goal of the company is to improve human lives and through their BCI innovations allow people to “walk, talk, hear and feel again.” The company has implanted brain chips in over 50 people and has surpassed Neuralink in conducting trials. In 2021, the company received FDA approval for its BCI system to provide immobile patients with the ability to control devices by thinking.
BrainGate is another company that is focused on developing BCI technologies to restore communication, mobility and independence for people affected by neurological diseases, injuries, and limb loss. People with motor conditions such as ALS, spinal cord injury, stroke, etc. are ones that can be benefited from such technology.
Neurable is a neurotechnology company that focuses on BCI solutions and software applications. They specialise in creating software platforms and tools that enable real-time analysis and interpretation of brain signals for various applications. The company uses electroencephalography (EEG) to detect patterns and insights from cognitive states, intentions or emotions. This can be processed to control external devices or provide feedback in applications such as VR, gaming and research.
Synchron has developed an endovascular brain computer interface that can access every corner of one’s brain using blood vessels. The company believes that by utilising the endovascular delivery method has the potential to simplify, enhance safety and improve accessibility of BCI technology which is considered way better than invasive open-brain surgery.
This year, the company announced that their peer-reviewed paper on long-term safety results from clinical study done in four severely paralysed patients with Synchron chips implanted was published in a journal . The study found that it is possible to use the device to transmit neural signals from inside the blood vessels in the brain without having adverse effects over a long-period.