Neuralink, the startup founded and led by Elon Musk has announced plans to begin testing its technology on human subjects as early as next year. The company has developed a kind of thread to act as an interface between the human brain and external sensors. These threads are incredibly thin, about one-third the size of the thinnest human hair and boast of data transfer capabilities that are over ten times faster than anything currently available. Additionally, Neuralink has also created a robot that can implant this thread deep within the brain without damaging the highly sensitive surrounding tissues.
The threads that act as interfaces between neural signals and sensors can be used to control prosthetic limbs as well as correct sensory impairments. The surgical procedure would involve drilling tiny holes in a candidate’s skull at strategic places to insert the threads, without impairing brain functions. Moreover, Neuralink’s scientists also hope to develop surgical lasers can replace the drills to reduce the invasiveness of the procedure. Ultimately, the company hopes to have wireless electrodes inserted into the brain of a subject, to wirelessly receive data for seamless integration with prosthetic limbs.
Neuralink has raised an amazing $158 million for its ambitious plans, with $100 million of it coming from Elon Musk himself. However, Neuralink’s technology still has a long way to go before it can be commercialized. If or when it does become commercial, it could have a profound effect on the lives of amputees.