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Bezos, Gates-backed brain implant startup testing mind-controlled computing on humans

San Francisco, Feb 20 (IANS) US-based brain interface startup, Synchron, backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, is working on technology designed to transform daily life for people with paralysis.

Synchron is part of an emerging crop of companies testing technology in the brain-computer interface industry, reports CNBC.

The Synchron Switch is implanted through the blood vessels and allows patients to operate technology using only their minds.

So far, the experimental technology has been tested on three patients in the US and four in Australia, according to the report.

“I’ve seen moments between patient and partner, or patient and spouse, where it’s incredibly joyful and empowering to have regained an ability to be a little bit more independent than before. It helps them engage in ways that we take for granted,” Synchron CEO Tom Oxley was quoted as saying.

Synchron, founded in 2012, is a member of the burgeoning brain-computer interface (BCI) industry, the report said.

A BCI system decodes brain signals and converts them into commands for external technologies.

As per the report, Synchron BCI is inserted through the blood vessels, which Oxley refers to as the “natural highways” into the brain.

Stentrode, a Synchron stent, is fitted with tiny sensors and delivered to a large vein near the motor cortex.

The Stentrode is linked to an antenna that sits under the skin in the chest and collects raw brain data that it sends out of the body to external devices, the report added.

Synchron’s technology can help patients with severe paralysis or degenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), regain their ability to communicate with friends, family, and the outside world, whether through typing, texting, or even accessing social media.

In December last year, the company announced a $75 million funding round, with participation from the investment firms of Gates and Bezos.

The US Food and Drug Administration granted Synchron the Breakthrough Device designation in August 2020, which is reserved for medical devices that have the potential to improve treatment for debilitating or life-threatening conditions.

The company has yet to generate revenue, and a spokesperson said that Synchron will not comment on how much the procedure will eventually cost, the report stated.