Stentrode: A ‘Moon-Shot’ Brain-Computer Interface Device
Video credit: Royal Melbourne Hospital
Stentrode, a tiny, minimally-invasive, biocompatible implant now being developed by Synchron is shaping up to be the next moon-shot discovery in human bionics.
Sitting in a blood vessel next to the brain, the Stentrode device records electrical activity from the motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls our movement. But this device is by no means a ‘wall flower’ in neural space.
In addition to the implant, the Stentrode, a brain-computer, relies on a wireless solution implanted in the chest to provide high-resolution neural data transmission; and a brain-controlled hands-free app platform that translates brain impulses into a standardised digital language.
Stentrode inventors and co-founders of Synchron, Dr Thomas Oxley and Dr Nicholas Opie are on a mission ‘to create implantable neural interface technologies that improve the human condition’ and ‘enable the treatment of previously untreatable neurological conditions.
The capability of Stentrode goes way beyond recording brain activity, giving its recipients the potential to use their own impulses to control digital devices (without using additional technologies), the ability to speak to an exoskeleton to restore movement, to monitor and detect oncoming seizures and much more.
Outcomes of a first in-human study in late 2020 demonstrated that Stentrode can enable people living with severe paralysis to resume daily tasks (including texting, emailing, shopping and banking online) through direct thought, without the need for open brain surgery. Looking ahead, the device is likely to be used to treat a wider suite of neurological conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression.
The above video profiles the design and development journey for the two Melbourne-based inventors and the experiences of end-users participating in the first in-human trials.