Business & Startups

Synchron Brain Implant – Breakthrough Allows You to Control Your iPhone With Your Mind – Grit Daily News

The mystery of the brain: While humans have gained a remarkable understanding of the body, there is still much to learn when it comes to the brain. That is why so many people and companies have dedicated themselves to understanding and interacting with the brain, looking to unlock its potential and harness its power for a variety of purposes. That includes the Synchron brain implant.

Restoring lives: The goal of the Synchron brain implant, and the company as a whole, is to give independence back to those who have lost it. The tech startup is using its technology to “unlock the natural highways of the brain,” which allows people to interact with technology with nothing but the power of their mind. The hope is that this can restore the lives of those with disabilities.

  • Six patients are currently using the Synchron Switch, a device that allows them to interact with technology. While most of them are using the technology with computers, one patient, Rodney Gorham, is instead testing the technology with an Apple product, which he has used to do things like send texts.
  • “We’re excited about iOS and Apple products because they’re so ubiquitous,” said Tom Oxley, the co-founder and CEO at Synchron. “And this would be the first brain switch input into the device.”

How it works: The Synchron brain implant is an endovascular brain-computer interface, which is supposedly able to access every part of the brain. It does so through the “natural highways,” otherwise known as blood vessels. More precisely, an array of sensors called a “Stentrode” is implanted into the top of the brain and then controlled wirelessly using the Synchron Switch from the patient’s chest.

  • The Stentrode is designed in such a way that it will be incorporated into the walls of the blood vessels. The whole thing is similar to a stent, with the purpose of not causing any long-term issues like inflammation or trauma.
  • There are three components to the system, which include the node, axon, and end-user software. The node records and transmits brain signals, while the axon detects the signal and translates it to be readable by Bluetooth devices. Finally, the software, called, is a platform that uses the translated signal.

The implant surgery is minimally invasive, to the point that it can be done by most surgeons. It is that way on purpose, with the minimally invasive, simple procedure being a major part of the company’s business strategy. By using a blood vessel instead of implanting it directly into the brain, the procedure avoids the need for a neurosurgeon, which would complicate it considerably.

FDA approved for clinical trials: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Synchron for clinical trials in July of 2021. The Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) was passed for the Synchron brain implant after years of safety testing and preparation.

  • The decision made Synchron the first Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) company approved to conduct an IDE clinical trial of a permanently implanted device. Even before that, in 2020, the Synchron brain implant was designated a Breakthrough Device.

It is a slow process: The goal is to eventually get widespread approval for the Synchron brain implant, truly unlocking independence for everyone with a disability. However, there is still a long way to go. Currently, the device is being trained to recognize the brain signal for a foot tap, which is then registered as a tap on a screen.

  • The very simple act represents a major milestone in successfully controlling a device using nothing but the brain.

Commercial value: Companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft have been waiting for technology like this to surface. While it is something incredible for marginalized communities, it also has immense commercial value. Currently, the Synchron brain implant is way ahead of the game, but there are others making progress with different approaches, such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink.

It does raise questions: Some question the ethical nature of the technology, while others are worried about regulating it. Should brain waves be considered personal data or health data? How can they be protected? As the technology progresses, such concerns are only likely to grow.

Spencer Hulse is a news desk editor at Grit Daily News. He covers startups, affiliate, viral, and marketing news.

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