The Synchron brain-computer interface is implanted in a patient

So much talk about Monkey Pong, but perhaps the real action is elsewhere:

On July 6 a doctor at the Mount Sinai West medical center in New York threaded a 1.5-inch-long implant made up of wires and electrodes into a blood vessel in the brain of a patient with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The hope is that the patient, who’s lost the ability to move and speak, will be able to surf the web and communicate via email and text simply by thinking—the device will translate his thoughts into commands sent to a computer.

Synchron, the startup behind the technology, has already implanted its devices in four patients in Australia, who haven’t experienced side effects and have been able to carry out such tasks as sending WhatsApp messages and making online purchases.

Here is the yummy-yum part:

A doctor makes an incision in the patient’s neck and feeds the stentrode via a catheter through the jugular vein into a blood vessel nestled within the motor cortex. As the catheter is removed, the stentrode—a cylindrical, hollow wire mesh—opens up and begins to fuse with the outer edges of the vessel. According to Majidi, the process is very similar to implanting a coronary stent and takes just a few minutes.

A second procedure then connects the stentrode via a wire to a computing device implanted in the patient’s chest. To do this, the surgeon must create a tunnel for the wire and a pocket for the device underneath the patient’s skin, much like what’s done to accommodate a pacemaker. The stentrode reads the signals when neurons fire in the brain, and the computing device amplifies those signals and sends them out to a computer or smartphone via Bluetooth.

Here is the full Bloomberg story by Ashlee Vance.

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