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Several Companies in a Race to Bring Brain-Computer Interfaces to Market

Published: December 9, 2022
A picture taken on Nov. 20, 2017 at the GIPSA-lab at the CNRS of Grenoble shows a researcher using a Brain-Computer-Interface helmet "Brain Invaders" which enables to select symbols without motor command. The headset detects the signals of the brain with electrodes placed on the scalp. (Image: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP via Getty Images) The headset detects the signals of the brain with electrodes placed on the scalp. / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP via Getty Images)

On Nov. 30, Elon Musk announced an update on his controversial brain-computer interface (BCI) currently under development at his neurotechnology company, Neuralink. Musk said human trials are expected to begin within six months and that once the technology is ready he would have the device inserted into his own brain. 

Musk has been vocal about his intentions. He believes that artificial intelligence (AI) poses an existential threat to humanity and that the only way to secure humanity’s future is by melding with AI via a BCI. 

While Musk’s Neuralink has dominated the headlines concerning this field of technology there are several companies around the globe, working diligently, with vastly different methods, to bring the technology to fruition. 


Neurotechnology company Synchron, the developer of a catheter-delivered Stentrode brain-computer interface implant, says that they’re the only BCI company tapping into blood vessels to capture signals from the brain. 

Synchron believes that their method of delivering the technology could, in future, make brain-computer interface technology simpler, safer and more accessible than the alternative method of invasive open-brain surgery. 

In July of this year, the company announced that it had successfully developed an endovascular delivery method for a BCI and tested it on its first patient. 

The procedure was performed at Mount Sinai West in New York, and is the first such implant to occur in the U.S. using the endovascular approach. 

“This is an incredibly exciting milestone for the field, because of its implications and huge potential,” Majidi said in a press release. “The implantation procedure went extremely well, and the patient was able to go home 48 hours after the surgery.”

The BCI system developed by Synchron relays signals from the brain to a device in the chest, inserted through the jugular vein, then translates the signals into action on a computer. 

The procedure was conducted under a FDA investigational device exemption.

“The first-in-human implant of an endovascular BCI in the U.S. is a major clinical milestone that opens up new possibilities for patients with paralysis,” Synchron CEO and founder Dr. Tom Oxley said, according to “Our technology is for the millions of people who have lost the ability to use their hands to control digital devices. We’re excited to advance a scalable BCI solution to market, one that has the potential to transform so many lives.”

Blackrock Neurotech

Blackrock Neurotech has been testing its technology on human patients for nearly 20 years and is expecting to launch its first commercial product early next year. 

The company received a FDA breakthrough device designation for its MoveAgain BCI system in 2021. The company says the device can provide immobile patients with the ability to control a range of devices using only thought. 

The company believes its device will allow immobile patients the ability to return to work, participate in leisure activities and communicate more effectively and quickly. 

The MoveAgain BCI utilizes an array implanted directly in the brain which then decodes movement from neuronal activity. Signals are transmitted wirelessly to external devices like a wheelchair or computer cursor, allowing people control of their external environment. 

Blackrock recently partnered with the University of Pittsburgh’s Rehab Neural Engineering Labs (Pitt RNEL) on the first portable brain-computer interface to allow patients to participate in research trials from home, which the company says is its final step before launching the product next year.

Should Blackrock be successful it would be the first commercially available BCI and would also be the first time humans are connected to computers outside of academic research studies, MassDevice reported. 



BrainGate is another company working to implant an array of micro-electrodes directly into the human brain to allow humans the ability to operate external devices, such as computers and robotic arms, with only a thought. 

To date the technology has allowed people with spinal cord injuries, brainstem stroke, and ALS to control a computer cursor by thinking about their own paralyzed hand and arm. 

Like Synchron the company is operating under a FDA investigational device exemption for human trials

“In April 2021, BrainGate clinical trial participants with tetraplegia demonstrated the use of the intracortical wireless, high-bandwidth BCI with an external wireless transmitter,” MassDevice reported. 

According to the company’s website early clinical research has demonstrated that its system had intuitive control over advanced prosthetic limbs. The company says its BCI allows easy control over assistive movement and communication devices.