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Neuralink Corporation, a neurotechnology company, founded by Elon Musk, is developing implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMI) that they plan to use in medical treatment. While the technology is not new, the start-up has already made significant changes to the implantable device. 

Neuralink unveils new design and surgical robot

The company has recently announced their new design for the brain chip. Neuralink has managed to simplify the device significantly. While the previous chip was bean-shaped and went behind the subject’s ear, the new one is shaped like a coin and goes underneath the top of the skull. The new design is also not noticeable.

The company has unveiled a surgical robot which has been created to implant the device with no room for error. The operation is said to take less than an hour, with the patients not requiring general anaesthesia. They have already used the robot to place implants in several pigs.

Musk reveals animals test subjects on a live stream

To garner attention for his new company, Musk has displayed an array of pigs implanted with the chip to show how the device works. In one pig named Gertrude, who was implanted with the device, viewers observed signals from an area of her brain connected to her snout. Whenever she touched things with her snout, dots and noises indicated that neurons were firing.

In another demonstration, Musk showed a monkey with an implanted chip playing a table tennis video game. The monkey was able to play the game with its mind just by looking at the screen.

In an interview with Joe Rogan, Musk said that the chips could change the way people communicate. He suggested that in just ten years, traditional communication would not be needed, and language would be unnecessary. Other experts state that this application of the chip is not realistic with our current understanding of how the brain works.

Other applications for the chip would be  assisting people with neurological conditions such as paralysis to use technological devices. Musk hopes that in time, it can be used to cure neurological disorders such as paralysis depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia.