The Neuralink is in the final stages of development, but Elon Musk and the company have kept the timeline vague and the schedule for the clinical trials opaque. The company hopes to begin human trials this year. Musk has hinted at a possible marketing plan. Neuralink has a Breakthrough Device designation from the FDA, which allows it to engage in ongoing dialogue with regulators and identify the data necessary for approval.
The implanted pig, Gertrude, was shy and difficult to work with. The technicians were frustrated because she was so uncooperative. But they persevered despite her shyness. By identifying the sensory cells in the pig’s snout, the Neuralink was able to determine the leg position. This helped scientists better understand the human nervous system. The team has since implanted the pig Gertrude, and she is now in the hospital recovering from her surgery.
The ultimate goal of Neuralink is to create a brain-machine interface that will enable humans to control digital devices. However, for the time being, the chip’s first applications will focus on people with neurological disorders and paralysis. Ultimately, the chip may also be used in video games, such as Pong. And even if it’s never used in humans, it is a good idea to have an idea of what its capabilities will be.
The main obstacle in Neuralink’s development is its long-term biocompatibility. Researchers have incorporated a patented, flexible polymer electrode that is less than the width of a human hair. Neuralink’s neurosurgery robot has been able to thread the electrodes safely between blood vessels. But their results are still preliminary and it is impossible to know whether the device will survive for decades.
A Neuralink device can record brain activity, stimulate it, and transfer control. If successful, it could help people with spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders. Musk cofounded Neuralink and has shown success with animal subjects. At a conference in San Francisco in 2016, the Neuralink company demonstrated a pig with a coin-sized chip implanted in its brain. The company claims their standards are higher than those of the FDA, so when will Neuralink be ready?
The neurotech startup Neuralink is currently running animal trials and is currently seeking a director to run clinical trials. Musk, who owns Tesla and SpaceX, is preparing to take Neuralink’s brain-chip research to the next level. The device could eventually help people with spinal cord injuries use smartphones. The goal is to have human trials underway by the end of next year. If this device is successful, it could restore full body functionality and help those with limited mobility.
Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, has said without evidence that his devices are the answer to autism. However, the company has developed surgical robotics to implant the device in a patient’s brain. The devices are tiny, a quarter of a human hair. Musk has expressed cautious hope that the Neuralink devices could be used to treat autism. Though Musk has remained largely focused on SpaceX, he has publicly stated his hopes for the Neuralink device to cure the problem.
Despite the many benefits of the technology, some scientists remain cautious. Neuralink is still in the early stages of human trials, and it’s unclear how much oversight it will receive from regulators. The company has promised to study its device on six human subjects in the coming years. Ultimately, however, the question of whether the technology will be safe and effective in a human brain will have to be resolved. In the meantime, the company released a video of a monkey using a Neuralink device to play pong.
Another important step is the communication between the brain and machine. Researchers have settled on a common language – “spikes” in neural activity. Those peaks are the signals that electrodes pick up, and they can send that information to the computer. If all goes well, Neuralink could end deafness and blindness. And that’s a big step in the right direction. While there are still a few challenges ahead, it’s certainly worth the wait.