The most high-profile project in the field of human chipping is Neuralink, backed by Elon Musk. However, Synchron has managed to outperform other companies, including Neuralink, in gaining regulatory approval to test commercial products that are literally applied to patients’ minds. Back in June last year, the New York startup Synchron Inc had received permission from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin clinical trials of a neurointerface capable of connecting the brain and a computer. And now it has become known that clinical trials of the first commercial brain-computer interface system Stentrode in the United States have begun.
The system is designed primarily for paralyzed people. According to its authors, with its help they will be able to more easily interact with the world around them, communicate their needs, as well as communicate with people.
Stentrode’s new implanted neurocomputer interface consists of a frame made of an alloy called nitinol. It is an alloy of nickel and titanium. The framework is dotted with electrodes that can record neural signals from the brain. This device can be inserted into a blood vessel located above the motor cortex. This is the area of the brain responsible for movement. To insert the implant, you need to make a small incision in the neck and this operation is similar to inserting a stent into a heart vessel. When the implant is placed, the electrodes are pressed against the wall of the vessel near the brain, and record neural signals. These signals are then transmitted to another device implanted under the skin in the human chest. And only after that the signals are transmitted to the computer. In this way, a patient with a brain implant will be able to control the cursor or on-screen keyboard on a computer monitor.
So far, Synchron specialists have received permission for only a number of small experiments in the laboratory. If successful, the program is planned to expand, allowing patients to use its capabilities for a long time. The company is confident that in a few years the Stentrode system will be available for free and will be available to everyone.