Last night, Elon Musk’s startup Neuralink made a presentation where he presented a redesigned version of the neurointerface.
Recall that Neuralink is developing a device for reading information from brain activity. It is primarily intended to treat conditions such as paralysis, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The design of the new chip has changed from last year. The previous version with an external BTE transmitter was too bulky, the new one measures 23x8mm and fits flush with the skull under the skin. The chip connects with threads to the brain, is not felt by the owner and is not visible from the outside.
“It’s like a Fitbit with tiny wires on your skull,” Musk said.
The number of electrodes has decreased from 3072 to 1024. A wireless interface is used for data exchange, the range is 5–10 meters. The control also takes place using a special application on a smartphone. The chip will need to be charged every night via magnetic charging.
The chip is implanted by a fully automatic robotic surgeon – it drills a small hole in the skull and connects the Link to the brain through flexible threads. In this case, the operation will take only an hour, does not require anesthesia, and the patient will be able to return home on the same day.
The work of the chip was shown on the example of two pigs, which were chipped two months ago. One of them had the implant removed and the animal is completely healthy. The plans are to move from animals to people: the first clinical trials of Neuralink in humans will be conducted with the participation of volunteers with paraplegia (paralysis of the upper or lower limbs) or tetraplegia (partial or complete paralysis) as a result of injury to the cervical spinal cord.
The chip and its installation “will be expensive at first, but the price will drop quickly” – to several thousand dollars, including the operation.