Neuralink Corporation is a neurotechnology enterprise founded by Elon Musk. The main goal is quite challenging: developing implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) to treat several brain deseases and disorders and eventually also anxiety and depression.
Neuralink was founded in 2016 by Elon Musk, Max Hodak, Ben Rapoport, Dongjin Seo, Paul Merolla, Philip Sabes, Tim Gardner, Tim Hanson and Vanessa Tolosa, a group of specialists in fields like neuroscience, biochemistry and robotics. The headquarters are in San Francisco. The company went public in March 2017 and in April announced that they were working on devices to treat serious brain diseases.
In July 2019, the company reached $158 million funding (of which $100 million was from Musk) and had a staff of 90 employees. At that point, Neuralink declared that was working on a “sewing machine-like” equipment able of implanting very tiny (4 to 6 μm in width) wires into the brain, and showed a system that gathers information from a laboratory rat via 1,500 electrodes.
What is Neuralink developing?
Neuralink is developing a fully integrated brain-machine interface (BMI) system. BMIs are technologies that allow a digital machine to communicate directly with the human brain. Through these devices, people with paralysis can control computer mouses or keyboards. There is even the possibility of writing information back into the brain, like restoring lost senses. Neuralink project aims to build a device more powerful than those already clinically approved. The device, called the Link, might be able to record from 1024 electrodes.
The two main departments are Implant and Robotics. They are responsible for the development of Link.
- Implant: this team is responsible for every step and action of the neural implant, from sensing the signals originating from the neurons in the brain to sending that information wirelessly to a device.
- Robotics: the robotics team has to insert the neural implant in our patients. It is not possible by hand so a robot is necessary for this task. Neurosurgery needs to be highly precise and quick. the use of robot allows the operation to be completely automated and scalable.
Characteristics of the LINK
- micro threads compatible with the tissue and corrosion resistant
- electrode materials that increase their surface area without increasing their size for more power stimulations
- reduced size chips with a lower power consumption
- water-proof enclosure from biocompatible materials to adapt to the skull
- algorithms that maintain reliable and robust performance while continuing to improve over time (not yet achieved)
- a small inductive charger wirelessly attaches to the implant to charge the battery from the outside.
The company is developing an IOS compatible app that allows the user to control his devices, keyboards and others with only brain stimulation. This is possible with the implementation of a Bluetooth connection to the Link chip. This app is not FDA-approved or available yet.
Info sources: https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-neuralink-not-first-scientists-monkey-control-computer-mind-2021-4?IR=T