On December 22, 2021 Phillip O’Keefe, a paralyzed 62-year-old man, tweeted the following message: “no need for keystrokes or voices. I created this tweet just by thinking it. #helloworldbci.” This was possible because of a neural implant made by Synchron called the Stentrode. The Stentrode is inserted into the jugular vein by a catheter and it is moved to the motor cortex of the brain. This method of implanting the Stentrode is advantageous because it avoids the need for open brain surgery. The Stentrode maintains blood flow through the vein because of its innovative design as a stent. Refer to Figure 1 to see how the Stentrode sits in the vein. The sensors on the Stentrode can read brain signals from the motor cortex. Then, these signals are transmitted from the brain to a computer and the software on the computer translates the brain signals into controls.
Figure 1 is an illustration of how the Stentrode sits within the vein
The Stentrode was implanted into Phillip in April 2020 and he compared the system to learning to ride a bike – it takes a lot of practice to get comfortable with it, but once you master it, it works well. Over the next few years it will be interesting to see the different applications of this revolutionary technology. There is potential for this technology to help paraplegics control objects such as a mouse, a keyboard, a vehicle, or even an exoskeleton. To learn more about the Stentrode, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZlIL0iI1Sg