Synchron unveils OpenAI-powered BCI chat feature

Synchron announced today that it integrated generative AI, powered by OpenAI, into its brain-computer interface (BCI) […]

Synchron announced today that it integrated generative AI, powered by OpenAI, into its brain-computer interface (BCI) platform.

The New York-based BCI maker integrated the AI, powered by the maker of ChatGPT, to create a new chat feature for its system.

Synchron designed its BCI technology to decipher the neural code of the brain, finding ways to restore motor intent to control digital devices.

The BCI system is delivered through an endovascular approach. Synchron says its BCI is the only one tapping into blood vessels to capture signals from the brain. The implant goes on the surface of the motor cortex of the brain via the jugular vein. Once implanted, it detects and wirelessly transmits motor intent out of the brain, potentially allowing severely paralyzed people to control personal devices with hands-free point-and-click.

Adding generative AI to this platform further enhances the capabilities, Synchron said in a news release. It could enable users with severe paralysis who lost upper limb mobility to interact with the digital world hands-free with thought alone.

Synchron says its BCI chat feature offers simplicity in both learning and use. It can generate automated prompts for texting and chatting, categorized by contextual inputs, including the user’s emotion. The company also noted that it does not share the BCI user’s brain data with OpenAI.

OpenAI’s multimodal GPT generates content across text and audio for more natural, real-time human-AI interactions. Combined with BCI, it could enable more efficient texting, faster response times, natural conversation speeds and more.

“Our users have lost the ability to make choices due to neurological disorders. Generative AI can offer predictions that are contextual to your environment, and the BCI enables individual choices to be made,” said Tom Oxley, CEO & founder, Synchron. “BCIs preserve and extend a fundamental human right: the freedom of expression. We take our autonomy for granted, until it is gone. This is a pivotal moment at the convergence of powerful technologies that can restore lives.”

More about Synchron and its BCI

Synchron manufactures its Stentrode implant with a thin-film process. It prints layers of nitinol and layers of insulation contacts that serve as electrodes, according to Chief Technology Officer Riki Banerjee. The company in February announced an acquisition of an equity stake in thin-film component maker Acquandas to aid in this process.

The company believes its endovascular delivery method could make brain-computer interface technology simpler and safer. It could also offer more accessibility than the alternative option of invasive open-brain surgery.

Read more about BCIs and companies in the space that you should know here

The company also has the backing of some big names, raising an oversubscribed $75 million Series C financing round in 2022. Gates Frontier (Bill Gates’ investment fund) and Bezos Expeditions (Jeff Bezos’ investment fund) participated in the round.

Synchron completed enrollment for its COMMAND clinical trial in September 2023. It also won the first FDA investigational device exemption for assessment of a permanently implanted BCI. The company hopes to beat Neuralink to FDA approval and commercialization. Neuralink is in the midst of its own in-human trial, recently announcing plans for a second human implant.

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