American billionaire Elon Musk founded the company Neuralink two years ago. Then he said that the main objective of the new company will be is to develop technologies to combine the human brain with the machine. We, by the way, there is excellent material on the subject. Since inception, the company kept silent, not telling any details about their progress. Today Elon Musk along with the leaders Neuralink held a presentation, where for the first time revealed details of a new project.
How does Neuralink?
Neuralink next goal is to learn how to implant special devices paralyzed people, to enable them to use computers and phones. After surgery people, on the idea Neuralink, can the power of thought “to write” text messages and “flipping” pages on the Internet. One of the objectives of the company is to develop a method that will allow you to implant these devices with less harm to the brain than the methods used today.
For this Neuralink has developed a flexible “string” of thickness from 4 to 6 micrometers, which is much thinner than a human hair. According to the company, this size reduces the risk of damage to the brain during implantation. “Threads” contain electrodes, which after implantation will monitor the activity of the brain.
The thickness of the electrodes is only 1/3 the thickness of a human hair
For implantation of filaments in the brain the company has developed a special neurosurgical robot. It is able to automatically implant a minute six “threads”, which in total contains 192 of the electrode.
The robot uses high-quality optics, which helps him during the surgery to avoid blood vessels, thereby reducing the risk of inflammatory reactions. At the moment, the technology of implantation of filaments requires drilling holes in the skull, but in the future the company hopes to use lasers to do implants without anesthesia.
The process of implantation of the electrodes
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Elon Musk noted during the presentation, one of the main problems of the current brain-computer interface is a low bandwidth signal transmission from the brain to computer and back. Early Neuralink developed prototype uses a wired USB connection-C. However, in the future the company intends to use the wireless transmission technology information. To solve Neuralink is developing a special chip, dubbed the N1. His task will be to read the purification and amplification of signals coming from the brain.
As pointed out by the company is to install four such chips into the human brain. Three will be located in the region of the brain responsible for motor skills (movement), and one in the somatosensory region (responsible for the sensation of our body to external stimuli). Wirelessly they will be connected to an external device, which will be located behind the ear and to play the role of transmitter of information between external devices (e.g., smartphones and computers) and brain. The developers expect that the system can be controlled via smartphone.
The chip amplifies the signals and sends them to the computer
Now tests of the technology conducted on laboratory animals. To develop the technology Neuralink attracted the cooperation of scientists from Stanford University. Developers and scientists have spent at least 19 surgeries on lab rats, succeeds in placing “strings” with the help of a robot-surgeon in 87 percent of cases. The presentation also showed one of the experimental rats with a USB-C port on the head, which transmit the computer data of brain activity of the animal. Says Neuralink, she managed to achieve 10 times more rapid transmission of information compared to devices from other manufacturers.
Interestingly, the Musk during the presentation, stated that two people with such implants will be able to “communicate telepathically”. Of course, even if in some form it will be possible, it will happen certainly not in the next years.
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When waiting for the technology Neuralink on the market?
Next year Neuralink wants to start clinical trials on humans. For this, companies need to get permission from the Management on control over products and medicines of the USA.
Clippings from the presentation can be viewed in the video below:
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