¡¡¡¡Diego SalinasJun 12 ¡¤ 3 min read
¡¡¡¡I am sure that Elon Musk¡¯s neuroscience startup, Neuralink is the first company that comes to your mind if you think of brain-computer interfaces. Last year, Neuralink implanted a brain chip on a pig and earlier this year, Elon said that Neuralink is ¡°working super hard to transition from operating on monkeys to human trials by the end of the year¡±.
¡¡¡¡Elon Musk Introducing his Brain Chip on a Pig
¡¡¡¡However, in 2019 he said the same thing, and nothing happened. Safety is a great issue when we are talking about drilling into a human skull and even when it¡¯s completely safe still there is a lot of questions about what exactly his brain implants can achieve.
¡¡¡¡The truth is in 2021 the race to change Neuroscience is not over yet and we still have no idea about who the winner will be and when the big leap with BCI will take place.
¡¡¡¡In this article, I bring to you a quick summary of the state of the art and the main players in the field:
¡¡¡¡1- Halo Neuroscience: based in San Francisco, has developed a brain-stimulating device called the Halo Sport which basically wants to make you smarter, faster, and stronger. The device sends weak electrical pulses into the brain to increase the efficiency of physical training. The product relies on the concept of neuro priming, i.e. using electrical stimulation to increase plasticity in the brain prior to an activity. According to the company, together with physical training, this results in increased strength, endurance, and muscle memory.
¡¡¡¡2 – Synchron: this company is developing an implantable device, called the Stentrode, that aims to provide patients with brain control of mobility-assistive devices. The system has a small and flexible device able to pass through cerebral blood vessels, allowing it to implant in the brain and interpret electrical data emitted by neurons.
¡¡¡¡The company is currently in the same stage as Neuralink, that is, performing early-stage clinical trials to evaluate the safety and feasibility of the device to enable patient-directed brain control. Synchron¡¯s founder Thomas Oxley was the 2018 Advance Life Sciences Award Winner because of the Stentrode.
¡¡¡¡3- MindMaze: this Swiss company is working on a computing platform founded in 2012 that is building intuitive human-machine interfaces through its neuro-inspired computing platform. It has designed an intuitive machine interface, which uses pre-real-time decoding of brain signals via neural prediction.
¡¡¡¡4- Kernel: This is a really interesting company to watch because it takes a different approach to achieve the same goal as Elon Musk¡¯s Neuralink. It is called MBMI: non-invasive mind/body/machine interface and aims to radically improve and expand human cognition. According to reports, the motive of Bryan Johnson, CEO of Kernel is to build a ¡°neuroprosthesis¡±, a device that will help a person to learn faster, remember more, coevolve with artificial intelligence, and much more. The company is working on building commercial neurological products that would enhance memory.
¡¡¡¡Have a look at this interesting comparison of Kernel vs Neuralink
¡¡¡¡5- Paradromics: another US-based company doing its best to compete in the field of medical BCIs. is currently developing high-volume bidirectional data streaming capabilities between brains and computers. The company was founded in 2015 by a team of researchers and neuroscientists. Paradromics is developing the brain-machine interface (BMI) to support patients who have severe connectivity disorders for instance paralysis, blindness, etc. Last year, the company had secured to land a $7 million seed round of financing.
¡¡¡¡Well, I think after looking at the companies above it is hard not to feel excited about the times to come.
¡¡¡¡In the end, it doesn¡¯t matter who will be the winner of this exciting race, but that sooner or later, the whole of humanity will be able to lead longer and healthier lives thanks to Neuroscience and brain implants, I have no doubts about that.