At the beginning of July Synchron, a startup developing brain computer interfaces, implanted its first device in a US patient. The technology behind this device will hopefully allow patients affected with severe paralysis to communicate via email and text simply using thoughts, even after losing the ability to move.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink is on the same road, but has not received FDA approval yet.
Founded in 2016, Synchron has already implanted its devices in four patients in Australia, who have been able to send messages on WhatsApp and make online purchases without experiencing side effects.
Meanwhile, Neuralink has changed its prediction to begin human trials from as early as 2020 to 2022.
Synchron and Neuralink’s devices are both designed to translate human thoughts into computer commands but present some substantial differences. What really caught the attention of the brain-computer interface field is that Synchron’s chip, known as the stentrode, can be implanted without cutting patient’s tissue.
However, Musk’s mission for Neuralink seems to be slightly more ambitious since the billionaire is presenting its device as “a Fitbit in your skull” that will give patients telepathic powers.
The brain-computing competition has taken off, but Synchron has surely proved to be the faster player.