American company Neuralink, owned and founded by Elon Musk, has been working on brain implant projects for years. It is now looking for the first patient volunteers to test its technology.
Americans over the age of 18 with severe physical disabilities can register to take part in the experiment.
As part of a study which goes by the name Prime (for "Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface"), Neuralink will be testing a new medical trial protocol involving its fully implantable, wireless brain-computer interface. Its aim is to enable disabled people to control various devices by thought, such as controlling a computer cursor or keyboard. In the longer term, this technology could also help treat Parkinson's disease or epilepsy.
These initial trials are aimed primarily at people who are quadriplegic as a result of a spinal cord injury, or who suffer from multiple sclerosis. More generally, anyone residing in the United States who has reached the age of majority in their state and suffers from quadriplegia, paraplegia, vision loss, hearing loss, inability to speak or limb amputation is invited to take part in the program and register on the patient registry recently put online by Neuralink.
Once in place, the "N1" implant will transmit brain signals to an application responsible for decoding them and transforming them into movement. The company specifies that it will never sell the data collected, although it will of course be shared with its research partners.
Before testing its technology on humans, Neuralink has conducted tests with animals. A video posted online in 2021, for example, showed a successful experiment involving a monkey who was able to play a small, basic video game.
However, it was only this year that Neuralink finally received the green light from the American health authorities to be able to test its brain implants in human trials. – AFP Relaxnews