Categories: InnovationResearch

Musk’s Neuralink Seeks Patients For Clinical Trial

Elon Musk’s brain-chip start-up Neuralink is seeking three patients for trials of a device designed to allow paralysed people to control digital devices through their thoughts, according to a US government database of clinical trials.

Neuralink is also appealing to the public to help with a thorny technical problem, the development of a wireless compression algorithm to transmit the huge amounts of brain data generated by the chip.

The company said its clinical trial is expected to take several years to complete, with a primary completion date of 2026 and a target of 2031 for the full report, Reuters reported.

The firm is seeking patients between the ages of 22 and 75 with quadriplegia or tetraplegia who have limited mobility without improvement for at least one year, and a life expectancy greater than 12 months.

Neuralink’s first patient, Noland Arbaugh. Image credit: Neuralink

Early feasibility study

To be eligible patients must have no hand, wrist or arm movement due to spinal cord injury or the neurological disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The study was registered as a “first-in-human early feasibility study”.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that more than 1,000 quadriplegics had signed up to Neuralink’s patient registry.

In January Neuralink implanted its device in its first patient, Noland Arbaugh, who is paralysed from the shoulders down due to a 2016 driving accident.

The device, which monitors signals from the brain that indicate the intention to act, has allowed Arbaugh to play video games, use the internet and move a computer cursor with his thoughts, Neuralink has said.

The company said last week that the implant generates about 200 times more brain data per second than it can currently wirelessly transmit, and created a public challenge to help with the issue.

Neuralink’s first patient, Noland Arbaugh. Image credit: Neuralink

Compression challenge

The Neuralink Compression Challenge seeks a lossless compression algorithm with greater than 200x compression, which must run in real time and at low power – a steep technical challenge indeed.

The company made no mention of a financial reward, but the winner is to be given a job interview at Neuralink, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported.

Neuralink released one hour of raw brain recordings from a monkey playing a simple video game and asked participants to compress the data.

Image credit: Neuralink
Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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