, the leader in brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, has announced plans to commercialize a BCI platform in 2022, with the aim of restoring communication function in patients impaired by disabilities caused by ALS, paralysis and other spinal cord injuries. With this breakthrough technology, patients are able to create text — simply by imagining themselves typing or writing by hand.
Blackrock’s brain-computer-interface (BCI) platform consists of an implant, miniaturized electronics, software, and a decoder. As a patient is thinking, electrodes implanted in the brain read the electrical firing patterns of neurons and send those signals through a bundle of five patented machine learning software decoders. The decoder algorithms have the ability to recognize and translate symbols, virtual keyboard and handwriting movements from thought patterns into communicable text. This technology could also enable patients to control a screen cursor, chair, vehicle, robotic arm or manipulator, and type speech or program shortcuts into a keyboard.
The platform, along with the decoder algorithms licensed from Stanford University, has been shown to enable much faster rates of thought-to-text typing and with higher accuracy than previously demonstrated by other BCI applications to date. The decoders enable typing speeds of up to 90 characters per minute, with 94% thought-to-text live accuracy and up to 99% accuracy with post-processing auto-correction work. The immediate goals of this initiative are to demonstrate that patients experience increased independence, improved quality of life, and the ability to return to the workforce with their use of the platform.
“This is the first step towards providing people with limited communication ability the opportunity to communicate more effectively,” said Florian Solzbacher, Chairman and President of Blackrock Neurotech. “The Stanford studies have demonstrated remarkable restoration of communication function, up to ten times faster than other BCI communication decoding options. The eventual goal is to enable communication functions on par with that of an able-bodied person. The progress is truly incredible.”
Blackrock is committed to make the technology available to the broader neuroscience community for research, and provide as many patients as possible with access to and use of this BCI. With the aim of commercialization in 2022, Blackrock will be the first-in-market to distribute this complete BCI system.
“We are thrilled that commercialization is now possible. Not only is there sufficient data to support the first applications, but more importantly, patients are asking for the product,” says Marcus Gerhardt, CEO of Blackrock Neurotech. “We hope this device is just the first of many advancements in helping patients regain independence and overcome limitations posed by their disability.”