Neuralink - the groundbreaking initiative of Elon Musk and team
How does it feel if we can use our smartphone with our brain? It is more like operating the device without using hands, but with our mind. We are already familiar with Bluetooth and Infrared which makes wireless connectivity possible. Similarly, if the brain is connected to a machine, we can simply operate it with mere thoughts. Sounds amazing?
Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) which is being developed by the Neuralink Corporation of Elon Musk and team is putting forward such a novel concept. During the initial phase, the technology will be implemented in medical sector to be useful for the paralysed individuals. By connecting the brain with machines, the individual can operate it without external help.
As the world has realised the importance of the inclusiveness, more technologies and inventions that benefit physically challenged humans are underway. Instead of treating the paralysed individuals as a separate entity, technology can help them access the world as other people can, or may be in better ways. Neuralink also proposed this idea.
What is Neuralink?
Neuralink is a neurotechnology company that develops implantable brain-machine interface (BMI). It was founded by Elon Musk and a group of scientists. Primarily, BMI is being developed to treat neurological diseases by enabling the individual to regain their sensory and motor functions with the help of technology.
Functioning of Neuralink
Neuralink can be defined as engineering with brain. By linking the neurons in our brain with machines, the users will be able to control it with their brain.
Several micro threads which carries numerous electrodes are implanted into the brain segments which manages the senses and motor skills. The threads are connected to a chip. A Neuralink device called Link that works on a battery is attached outside of the head.
The signals produced in the brain are carried by the threads to the chip and this is passed to the external device via Bluetooth. So, the user will be able to operate it with the brain signals without any external help.
Neuralink scientists intend to first implement the technology in medical sector. By implanting BMI, the lives of people affected with neurological diseases like paralysis or spinal cord injuries can be made better.
They can avoid depending others to operate computer or mobile phones and regain sensory and motor skills with the help of technology. Communication is the major challenge faced by paralysed people. With BMI, they can overcome this state to an extent.
Musk and team had demonstrated the functioning of Neuralink device last year. They displayed three pigs implanted with Neuralink device and showed how the signals from their brains were carried wirelessly to a computer nearby. Prior to this, Musk and team had exhibitted how Neuralink works with the help of some rats in 2019.
It is learnt that they are planning to start experiments with humans in future. Though Covid outbreak might have affected the project and related experiments, the company is gearing up to test the BMI in humans. It can be expensive and risky, but the technology will be developed further to reduce the chances of failure.
Though hailed as groundbreaking invention, the BMI also has some challenges to deal with. One of the key issues is the resistance of body towards external objects.
Once any device are implanted, there are chances of the body rejecting them. Normally, major surgery is required for fixing implants in the body. This increases the risk of the process.
Concerns of safety are not completely resolved and the Neuralink team is trying to develop smaller and affordable technology which does not affect the brain cells but is able to handle more brain data.
The entire world hopes that, in future, Neuralink may succeed to develop an efficient BMI which can overcome the drawbacks and derive positive results. The lives of numerous people who are unable to lead an independent life due to neurological conditions can be changed with Neuralink's BMI.