This week The Economist published a great, all-encompassing Technology Quarterly article on the state of Brain Computer Interfaces, titled "Thought Experiments". Thank you to Andrew Palmer and The Economist team for our mention in the article! It is very exciting for us to begin to share with you some of the inner workings of our technology. This year we hope to further pull back the curtain on our state-of-the-art compressive sensing and scalable microwire technology.
We strongly encourage you to head over to the Economist site for an exceptionally thorough coverage of where BCI are at and where BCI are heading.
Paradromics exert from The Economist Technology Quarterly, Thought Experiments.
"Over on America’s west coast, a startup called Paradromics is also using inductive coupling to power its implantable. But Matt Angle, its boss, does not think that souped-up surface recordings will deliver sufficiently high resolution. Instead, he is working on creating tiny bundles of glass and metal microwires that can be pushed into brain tissue, a bit like a Utah array but with many more sensors. To stop the wires clumping together, thereby reducing the number of neurons they engage with, the firm uses a sacrificial polymer to splay them apart; the polymer dissolves but the wires remain separated. They are then bonded onto a high-speed CMOS circuit. A version of the device, with 65,000 electrodes, will be released next year for use in animal research.
That still leaves lots to do before Paradromics can meet its DARPA-funded goal of creating a 1m wire device that can be used in people. Chief among them is coping with the amount of data coming out of the head. Dr Angle reckons that the initial device produces 24 gigabits of data every second (streaming an ultra-high-definition movie on Netflix uses up to 7GB an hour). In animals, these data can be transmitted through a cable to a bulky aluminium head-mounted processor. That is a hard look to pull off in humans; besides, such quantities of data would generate far too much heat to be handled inside the skull or transmitted wirelessly out of it.
So Paradromics, along with everyone else trying to create a high-bandwidth signal into and out of the brain, has to find a way to compress the data rate without compromising the speed and quality of information sent. Dr Angle reckons he can do this in two ways: first, by ignoring the moments of silence in between action potentials, rather than laboriously encoding them as a string of zeros; and second, by concentrating on the wave forms of specific action potentials rather than recording each point along their curves. Indeed, he sees data compression as being the company’s big selling-point, and expects others that want to create specific BCI applications or prostheses simply to plug into its feed. “We see ourselves as the neural data backbone, like a Qualcomm or Intel,” he says."