A wearable for the brain, so Elon Musk has decided to exemplify the first device they have developed at Neuralink. In order to solve mental and spinal problems, the device is connected to the brain by means of an implant and microthreads. In the first test versions it is already working, but there is still a long way to go.
The project was presented in public for the first time in July of last year. Elon Musk: Neuralink aims to be able to “read live” the human brain . To do this, what they want to do is connect multiple microscopic cables directly to the nervous system. The idea is that these micro-wires are connected to a device that quickly processes the information and sends it via Bluetooth or another wireless system to the smartphone.
Elon Musk has made an analogy with a Fitbit or other smart wearables including this Neuralink. In fact it will have to be charged every night. But of course, in this case it not only records movement (which it will) but also brain activity. And this is not as simple as putting a bracelet on your wrist.
In fact it goes a bit 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 that, of course. For now, the device reads the signals and processes them to send only the essential ones to the smartphone. Why? Because there is a huge amount of information and limited time and resources on the device. Therefore an algorithm analyzes the information before sending it to the phone, all in a matter of nanoseconds.
The steps to implant it in humans
And works? At the moment Neuralink has tested the device in pigs , due to its similarity to humans in many biological aspects. In different pigs Neuralink has placed the device to see how the body accepts it and above all to see if the reading of live signals works. And he does, at least that’s what we have seen in the Nueralink demo, where he has shown us the nervous activity in one of the pigs.
The pig has several implants connected and they get a total of 1024 electrodes that read the nervous activity of the animal’s nose. As he smelled or became aroused by the food offered, impulses were registered on the screen. They have also shown how they are detecting the movement of the pig’s body by finding repetitive trends in the data obtained. Although there are already implants on the market that read nerve activity, none with such a high number of electrodes and information obtained.
Only in pigs? Soon in humans, for now they have obtained authorization from the FDA this past July. FDA is the American authority that regulates and certifies among other things health devices. Probably over the next few months they will begin to perform trial implants in humans, although it is not clear whether in the spine or in the brain directly.
Elon Musk indicates that this device is barely the size of a coin . To place it on the human, an incision must be made in the skull and placed inside. All this is done by a robot in an automated way and they promise that it is a process of about an hour, without general 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 for a better one, there will be no problems, at least that is what they promise after testing it with pigs.
He says that if it is properly positioned, it will not even be painful or the patient will bleed . It will neither hurt nor bleed because the electrodes at the end of the wires that connect directly to the brain are so tiny that they do not 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 has not been to promote the product but to call on experts and engineers to work with them. Neuralink needs engineers who have knowledge and experience in electronic products related to health, in wearables in general. And it is just what they have been asking for in public both during this event and in the past.