Company Blog & Industry News

24 March, 2017

I Have a Computer Chip in My Brain That Reads My Thoughts

The electrode is part of a system that could help people with paralysis bypass their injuries and reanimate their limbs. 

I've always been fascinated with the promise of computers. Because of that, I make it a point to get the latest and greatest technology. Even as a kid, I was the one in the family who would set up our new electronics and computers. It's this lifelong passion that helped lead me to becoming a pioneer in bionic technology. Right now, I'm the only person on the planet who has a special computer chip implanted in my brain that can read my thoughts and send those signals through a port in my skull out to a computer, which can then send that information back to my body and make my body do stuff.

For the past three years, I've been using this groundbreaking technology, called NeuroLife, to bypass a spinal injury that left me with quadriplegia. Although I'm paralyzed from the chest down, when I'm hooked up to the computer, and the computer is connected to a special sleeve wrapped around my forearm, I can use my hands to pick up and put things down. The technology reanimates my arm and allows me to control it with my mind, similar to the the way I moved before I had my accident.

The accident happened in 2010, during my freshman year at Ohio University in Athens. A few days after my final exams, I headed out to the Outer Banks, North Carolina, for a brief vacation with my girlfriend at the time and some friends. I remember sitting behind the wheel on the nine-hour drive, thinking about all the fun we were going to have and relishing in the fact that we were going to spend a few days just kicking back and letting our hair down. When we finally arrived, we headed straight for the ocean to enjoy the waves.

I was so excited to be there that I was the first person to get into the water, even though it was pretty cold. I dove headfirst into a wave like I had done a million times before. But this time, the waves pushed me down, and the water below wasn't very deep. I hit my head on a sandbar. Immediately, I knew something was wrong because I couldn't get up out of the water. Thankfully, I wasn't by myself. My friends pulled me onto the shore.

At first, I was really optimistic. I thought that I'd be back doing whatever I wanted in about six weeks. I didn't really get a clear diagnosis until the morning after the accident. But when I did, it was pretty bleak. I was a quadriplegic: They said I could move my arms around a little bit, but I wouldn't be able to do much else. They said I would need help with everything, from getting dressed and eating to drinking or turning on the lights. "This is what it's going to be like for the rest of your life," they told me. That really hit home. But I took it as a challenge. I wanted to prove them wrong. I wanted to get as strong as I could and make my life the best that it could be in spite of my injury.

 

First, I had to relearn every aspect of my life to adapt to my paralysis. I did outpatient therapy with Ohio State University in Columbus because the campus was only 20 minutes from my parent's house. With support from the doctors there, I was able to start doing more for myself than initially expected. After a lot of work, I could eat on my own, I could control a wheelchair, and I could even drive a car.

But I realized that eventually the therapy that was helping me so much would have to end, due to my insurance. So I had to look for other options. I started asking my doctors, "What are some other ways for me to get therapy and continue getting better?" That led me to doing research studies that would enable me to continue therapy without having to rely on support from my insurance. These studies also exposed me to some of the most advanced technological advances in the world today.

Ohio State University doctors in the midst of a deep-brain implant surgery that is similar to the one Ian went through. Photo by Andrew Cagle
Neurostimulation Implantable Devices Future of Neuroscience Spinal Cord Injury

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16 March, 2017

Super humans who are sexier, stronger & smarter will arrive by 2029

Technological singularity will turn us into super humans some time in the next 12 years, according to  a Google expert.

This might sound like science fiction, but Google's Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has made 147 predictions since the 1990s and has a success rate of 86 per cent.

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6 March, 2017

The unknown sector that Google is investing in now

5 reasons why MedTech is attracting a huge range of strategic investors

Medtech is attracting a huge range of strategic investors right now, including Google, AppleIBM, and GE. Healthcare is almost universally recognized as in need of rationalization--the application of technology in the effort to achieve better outcomes at lower costs. Medical devices and diagnostics, and the data that they generate, are expected to be central to achieving that goal in the coming decades.

Blog

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6 March, 2017

DARPA’s Brain Chip Implants Could Be the Next Big Mental Health Breakthrough—Or a Total Disaster

How did a Massachusetts woman end up with two electrodes implanted into her brain? Why is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developing a controversial, cutting-edge brain chip technology that could one day treat everything from major depressive disorder to hand cramps? How did we get to deep brain stimulation and where do we go from here?

Deep Brain Stimulation

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21 February, 2017

Northwell Health, GE Ventures Announce Strategic Alliance to Advance Bioelectronic Medicine

Alliance will identify new diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes and hypertension 

NEW YORK, Feb. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Northwell Health's Feinstein Institute for Medical Research today announced a strategic alliance with GE Ventures to support the Feinstein's Center for Bioelectronic Medicine (CBEM). With this investment, the Feinstein Institute will continue its work in discovering, developing and commercializing new diagnostic and therapeutic solutions in bioelectronic medicine for a wide range of acute and chronic diseases and injuries, including neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes and hypertension.       

Investment

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7 February, 2017

Investing Mastery Through Deliberate Practice

In 2010, Dan McLaughlin was a 30 year old commercial photographer who after much thought, decided to enlist himself in a 10,000 hour experiment of his own design.  He wanted to prove that if a person performed the right kind of focused practice over thousands of hours, one could become an expert in the chosen field.  Although he had no particular experience as a competitive athlete, McLaughlin settled on golf as his chosen field for his experiment. 

Investment

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27 January, 2017

The merging of humans and machines is happening now

Her organisation invented the internet. It gave us the self-driving car. And now DARPA’s former boss sees us crossing a new technological boundary

Arati Prabhakar, director of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, photographed for WIRED at DARPA HQ, Virginia (Credit Macieck Jasik)

The merging of machine capability and human consciousness is already happening. Writing exclusively for WIRED, DARPA director Arati Prabhkar outlines the potential rewards we face in the future - and the risks we face

DARPA AI

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25 January, 2017

Elon Musk could soon share more on his plan to help humans keep up with AI

In nearly the same breath as he shared updates on his plans to dig tunnels, Elon Musk also noted he’s looking to hopefully share more on his progress with developing a “neural lace” next month. That’s a technical term for direct cortical interface, and it’s something that the SpaceX and Tesla CEO takes very seriously, in case you thought he might just be having a laugh.


Future of Neuroscience AI

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20 May, 2016

Let's make a med tech deal: J&J, Medtronic, Apple, Google sit on piles of cash

These med tech investors span consumer and business-oriented technology companies looking for the next big market, traditional med tech players in need of a revamp and even biopharma companies trying to sort out the application of med tech in their clinical trials and drug delivery that can give them an edge over peers.

Investment

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29 February, 2016

Researchers Create Matrix-Like Instant Learning Through Brain Stimulation

You know Kung Fu. Researchers at HRL Laboratories have discovered that when you use transcranial direct current stimulation to send the brain activity of commercial and military pilots into the heads of novice pilots, subjects can essentially learn to fly in a realistic flight simulator.

The researchers discovered that “subjects who received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps improved their piloting abilities."

Neurostimulation Learning

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