NEO: The new brain implant developed in China
Researchers from Tsinghua University and Xuanwu Hospital in Beijing have released the successful results of the first clinical trial of a brain-computer interface (BCI) that is wireless and minimally invasive, according to local media reports.
The study was carried out on a patient with a complete spinal cord injury, demonstrating that, after three months of rehabilitation training using CCI at home, the patient was able to control pneumatic gloves using the electrical activity of his brain, achieving a grip accuracy of more than 90%, according to a statement issued by Tsinghua University.
The ICC, called NEO, is made up of a series of electrodes located on the dura mater, the outermost layer that protects the brain and spinal cord. These electrodes capture brain signals and send them to an external computer that interprets them to control external devices. Near-field wireless technology powers and transmits the signals, eliminating the need for internal batteries and thus reducing the risk of infections and other complications.
This advance was announced shortly after Elon Musk, the magnate behind Neuralink, declared on the social network X that his company had successfully implanted a chip in the brain of a human . However, NEO differs from the Neuralink chip in that its electrodes are placed outside the dura mater , making the procedure less invasive . Additionally, unlike the Neuralink device, which requires internal batteries, NEO uses wireless technology for its power and signal transmission, minimizing risks to the patient.
The global market for medical applications of BCIs is estimated to range between $40 billion and $145 billion by 2030-2040, according to a 2023 study by consulting firm McKinsey . This market is divided between serious medical applications, such as spinal cord injury rehabilitation, and consumer applications, such as improving cognitive performance.
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