May 19, 2022 – Blackrock Neurotech, a provider of brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, has today announced a partnership with AE Studio, a group of developers, designers, and data scientists who specialize in launching products that increase human agency. Through the partnership, AE Studios will provide Blackrock with key software and machine learning services that improve the user experience for BCI patients impaired by paralysis.
Since 2008, implantable BCIs have been used in research studies around the world to restore function in people with paralysis and other neurological disorders. Blackrock Neurotech’s hardware is used in these studies, with 32 of the 36 global human patients implanted with Blackrock technology. These implants have been shown to restore movement, communication, and touch, with the longest chronic implant still active and lasting upwards of seven years, according to the company.
Earlier this year, Blackrock announced its aim to release the first commercial BCI platform, MoveAgain, in early 2023. Built on more than fourteen years of human research, MoveAgain will enable patients with spinal cord injuries to interact with digital devices simply by thinking. One such application is communication, wherein patients imagine themselves writing letters with a pen in hand, and their brain signals are decoded in real time and sent to digital devices. However, one challenge faced by researchers is that patients’ brain signals change over time, resulting in significant time spent in recalibration and training sessions.
To minimize these calibration and training requirements, AE Studio is developing improved machine learning models and algorithms for the software in its AE Decoder Solution to minimize calibration and training requirements in neural decoding. Blackrock is licensing the AE Decoder Solution, which aims to minimize latency issues associated with receiving, analyzing, and processing neural data across devices. The objective is ultimately to create a BCI that is easy to learn, flexible, usable, and responsive, and will decrease friction for patients and caretakers.
Judd Rosenblatt, CEO at AE Studio, commented: “Increasing human agency with technology requires a synergy of hardware and software. AE delivers the best of development, data science, and design.” He added, “Blackrock sits at the forefront of neurotechnology. This partnership is an opportunity to restore motion to paralyzed limbs and unlock the potential of the human mind. We are excited and humbled to play our part.”
Blackrock received a Breakthrough Designation from the FDA in 2021, which is expected to enable an expedited FDA review process of the MoveAgain platform. Blackrock states that it aims to have the product commercially available to a broader patient population in 2023 and that AE Studio will play an immediate role in the FDA submission for MoveAgain.
Aside from the obvious benefits to potentially restoring function to paralyzed patients, BCI’s are now being utilized in tandem with XR technology more often, since BCIs can enable users to communicate and interact with digital devices, such as virtual reality (VR) headsets or augmented reality (AR) smart glasses, through thought alone. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for how users interact with devices, and has implications for the wider XR market and how users will navigate the metaverse.
For more information on Blackrock Neurotech and its brain-computer interface technology, please visit the company’s website.
Image / video credit: Blackrock Neurotech
About the author
Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past five years.