For decades, the idea of a brain-computer interface (BCI) has captured the imagination of scientists, researchers, and science fiction writers alike.
I love reading stories and research articles about BCI. I’d like to briefly summarize my findings and understanding of the concept with a few examples to give you an idea.
The concept involves the ability to control computers and machines with just a thought, creating a future where people can operate various devices with their minds.
However, the traditional approach to BCIs has been intensive brain surgery, making it inaccessible to the average person. That is until the Synchron Switch, a new approach to BCIs, emerged.
What is the Synchron Switch?
The Synchron Switch is a small device that is inserted through blood vessels and placed next to the motor cortex of the brain. The stent is equipped with tiny sensors that collect “raw brain data” and connect to an antenna implanted under the skin of the chest.
The device allows individuals with disabilities to text message, use social media, and engage in other activities that most people take for granted.
According to an interview with CNBC, Synchron CEO Tom Oxley described moments between patients and their partners or spouses where it was “incredibly joyful and empowering to have regained an ability to be a little bit more independent than before.”
The device enables people with disabilities to engage in activities that are vital to their well-being and helps them feel a sense of independence.
The Synchron Switch has been used on seven patients (four Australian and three American) over the past year. Oxley also reported that a patient with ALS and limited hand mobility was able to send out a tweet using the CEO’s account with just his mind after having the Synchron Switch implanted. The technology could also be used for online shopping, managing finances, and more.
Compared to other BCIs like Elon Musk’s Neuralink, the Synchron Switch is less invasive. Neuralink requires a microchip the size of a coin to be implanted inside the brain tissue, and the surgery can only be performed by a neurosurgeon.
In contrast, Synchron’s device is not directly inserted into the brain, which means that more surgeons can perform the procedures.
Peter Yoo, the Director of Neuroscience at Synchron, explained that the signal quality is not always perfect, but the device’s signal quality did not degrade for its Australian patients.
The year-long human trials for Synchron’s BCI system have been peer-reviewed by a neuroscience medical journal in Australia. The study found the technology to be safe and concluded that “the favorable safety profile could promote wider and more rapid translation of BCI to people with paralysis.”
The study suggests that the technology could help more people with paralysis or disabilities gain greater independence and improve their quality of life.
The Synchron Switch represents a significant breakthrough in BCI technology.
The device is less invasive than traditional approaches and has the potential to help people with disabilities perform everyday activities with ease.
The trials have demonstrated the device’s safety and effectiveness, and the technology is well-positioned to promote wider and more rapid adoption of BCIs for people with paralysis.
While there is still much work to be done, the Synchron Switch is a promising start toward creating a more inclusive world.
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About the Creator
I specialise in Media, Design, and Filmmaking. I support Illumination Integrated Publications on Medium as an editor and YouTube coordinator. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9DhuGQYbpI& I also own two publications for Gaming and Podcasts.