Elon Musk’s Neuralink startup has finally revealed more details about its mission and its aims. The firm states that it wants to help people with severe neurological conditions regain motor function via Bluetooth-enabled implants inserted into the brain. The device to be used has reportedly already been successfully trialed in a monkey that was able to control a computer with its brain.
Neuralink, which Musk has invested some $100 million in, has developed a device that can implant ultra-thin threads deep into the brain’s nervous system to connect to a tiny chip. That chip connects via Bluebooth to a small computer worn over the ear and to a smartphone app that the user can control. The company says up to 10 units can be placed in a patient’s brain.
Neuralink devices will be installed by a robot built by the startup and operated by a surgeon. The robot will drill 2 millimeter holes in the patient’s skull to implant the device and the chip part of the device will plug the hole in the skull. The scientists hope they will one day be able to use laser technology to make the holes to eliminate vibration in the skull.
So far, the company’s activities have been shrouded in secrecy. Max Hodak, Neuralink’s president and one of the company’s founders, said the company went public with the plans to put a halt to rumors. He stated, “We want this burden of stealth mode off of us so that we can keep building and do things like normal people, such as publish papers.”
Neuralink has applied to U.S. regulators to begin trials on humans as soon as next year. Mr. Musk hopes the product will be on the market within four years. Details on how brain activity will be translated or how the brain would be stimulated have not been released.