Neuralink, a company co-founded by Elon Musk, has been working on an implantable brain-machine interface since 2016. While it has previously shown its progress by showing a macaque controlling the cursor in a game of Pong, it has yet to begin human-tasting. Now, according to ReutersMusk has reached out to rival company Synchron in recent weeks to discuss a potential investment.
It’s unclear what kind of deal Musk has offered — be it a partnership or a financial investment — as none of the players have responded or confirmed the report with the news organization. ReutersSources also said a deal is not certain and Synchron has yet to decide whether to accept Musk’s offer. Apparently, the CEO approached Synchron’s CEO after expressing his frustration to Neuralink’s staff at the company’s slow progress.
Neuralink already announced in 2019 that it would seek approval for human trials in 2020. In January of this year, the company began looking for a clinical trials director to oversee the testing of its medical device on human subjects. That has yet to happen, however, and the FDA has yet to reveal how far Neuralink is in getting approval.
Meanwhile, Synchron announced in July that it had implanted its brain-computer interface for the first time in the motor cortex of a human patient in the US. Doctors at New York’s Mount Sinai West did this as part of the company’s COMMAND study, which aims to investigate the safety of Synchron’s implant in patients with severe paralysis. The company also completed a study in Australia, in which four people were determined to still be safe even after a year with the implant.
Like Neuralink, Synchron also hopes to give people with limited mobility the ability to control devices such as smartphones and computers with their minds. That gives them the independence to email, text, and perform various digital tasks. Earlier this year, Max Hodak, the co-founder of Neuralink who left the company in 2021, revealed that he was taking on an advisory role at Synchron. He has also “given” financially invested in the company [his] enthusiasm for what they do.”
However, it’s worth noting that Musk has reportedly held talks with other Neuralink rivals in the past. Reuters says he also approached brain-machine interface developer Paradromics in 2020, but those talks were eventually dropped.
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