Neuralink presents its first functional device to read nervous system activity

A laptop for the brain, that’s how Elon Musk decided to illustrate the first device they developed in Neuralink. In order to solve mental and spinal problems, the device is connected to the brain by means of an implant and microbeads. In early versions of test, it already works, but there is still a long way to go.

The project was presented to the public for the first time in July of last year. Neuralink offers be able to “read live” the human brain. To do this, they want to connect several microscopic cables directly to the nervous system. The idea is that these micro-wires are connected to a device which quickly processes the information and sends it via Bluetooth or other wireless system to the smartphone.

Elon Musk drew an analogy with a Fitbit or others clothing intelligent. In fact, it will have to be billed every night. But of course, in this case, it records not only movement (what it will do) but also brain activity. And it’s not as easy as putting a bracelet on your wrist.

In fact it goes a little further, because in addition to “reading” information from the brain, they also want to “write” signals in the brain. Development is still needed to achieve this, of course. For now, the device reads the signals and processes them to send only the most essential to the smartphone. Because? Because there is a huge amount of information and limited time and resources on the device. This is why an algorithm analyzes the information before sending it to the phone, all in a few nanoseconds.

Link, the name of the device. It’s version 0.9 and version 1.0 will be the one that reaches humans.

Steps to implant it in humans

And it works? For the time being Neuralink tested the device on pigs, due to its similarity to humans in many biological aspects. In different pigs, Neuralink placed the device to see how the body accepts it and most importantly to see if the live signal reading is working. And he does, at least that’s what we saw in the Nueralink demo, where he showed us the nervous activity in one of the pigs.

The pig has several implants connected and they get a total of 1024 electrodes which read the nervous activity of the animal’s nose. As he smelled or was aroused by the food offered, pulses were recorded on the screen. They also showed how they detect the movement of the pig’s body by finding repetitive patterns in the data obtained. Although there are already implants on the market that read nerve activity, none with such a large number of electrodes and information obtained.

Capture dScreenshot 9 One of the pigs that had the Neuralink implant.

Only in pigs? Soon in humans, for now obtained FDA clearance last July. The FDA is the American authority that regulates and certifies, among other things, health devices. Probably in the next few months they will start performing trial implants in humans, although it is not clear whether in the spine or in the brain directly.

Egitbkhxgaef8dpEgitbkhxgaef8dp Differences from last year’s prototype and the new version presented today.

Elon Musk indicates that barely the size of a room this device. To place it on the human, an incision must be made in the skull and placed inside. This is all done by a robot in an automated fashion and they promise it is a process of around an hour, without anesthesia and with the possibility of leaving the clinic directly after the operation. If in the future you want to remove the implant or update it with a better one, there will be no problems, at least that is what they promise after testing it on pigs.

NeuralinkNeuralink Neuralink’s “robot surgeon”.

Comment that, if it is well placed, it won’t even be painful or bleed the patient. It won’t hurt or bleed because the electrodes at the end of the wires that connect directly to the brain are so small that they don’t touch the blood vessels.

But for now, it will be missing until we see a product on the market. In fact, the whole purpose of this event was not to promote the product but rather a call to experts and engineers to work with them. Neuralink needs engineers with knowledge and experience in health related electronics products, clothing in general. And that’s exactly what they have asked for in public both during this event and in the past.

Via | Neuralink

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