Elon Musk’s brain chip company, Neuralink, is starting human clinical trials six months sooner than they planned. The device will have a target release date of 2020 and one of its first applications may be restoring vision.
Neuralink is developing new brain chip interfaces that it says could enable disabled patients to move and communicate again. The company is based in San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas, and it has been conducting tests on animals for years as it awaits US regulatory approval to begin clinical trials with people.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, gave an update on Neuralink – a startup he co-founded to connect our brains to computers. According to Musk, the company has submitted most of its paperwork to the FDA and is hoping for approval in about six months.
The FDA had not commented on the matter by the time of this press release.
Neuralink’s first two human applications will restore vision and enable the motion of muscles in people who can’t do it on their own. “We believe we can even offer this technology to those with no eyesight whatsoever,” he said.
When the event was originally scheduled, it was on October 31st. However, just days before the event, Musk postponed it for unknown reasons.
According to Neuralink’s last public presentation, they managed to encode a monkey’s brain with a chip that allowed him to play a computer game independently.
Elon Musk is known for his astronomical ambitions-so it was no surprise when he announced Neuralink, his ambitious new venture. While Hyperloop and Tesla may get their fair share of media attention, Neuralink is shaping up to be one of Musk’s most impressive endeavors yet.
The goal that Dr. Zhou has is to create a chip that will allow the brain to control complex electronic devices as well as allow people with paralysis or brain diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s to eventually regain motor function. He also talks of melding neurons with artificial intelligence.
Musk said he hopes to start human trials this year and receives regulatory approval by the end of 2020. He also said he was targeting the end of 2020 for completion.
Developing a new medical technology like the neural link has taken longer than Musk anticipated. Even though they’ve been working steadily and iterating their product, they’ve failed on their internal deadlines to get FDA approval to start human trials. Recently, Musk approached competitor Synchron about a potential investment (after expressing frustration to Neuralink employees) after he learned of Neuralink’s slow progress.
One of Synchron’s big achievements this year was implanting their device in a person in the U.S. for the first time. The company also received regulatory clearance to carry out human trials in the U.S., and it’s done studies on four people in Australia so far.