Synchron, a brain interface start-up, is developing the Synchron Switch, which is implanted through the blood vessels and allows people with little or no physical mobility to operate technology such as cursors and smart home devices using their mind. According to a recent CNBC article, the technology has been used on three patients in the US and four in Australia. The FDA granted Synchron the Breakthrough Device designation, which is for medical devices that have the potential to provide improved treatment for debilitating or life-threatening conditions. The company received an Investigational Device Exemption from the FDA to conduct trials of a permanently implantable brain-computer interface (BCI) in human patients. The BCI is the first to be inserted through the blood vessels, which makes it less invasive and more accessible.
Synchron's competitors in the BCI industry include Neuralink, which is developing a BCI that's designed to be inserted directly into the brain. Neuralink is founded by Elon Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter. Synchron announced a $75m financing round that included funding from the investment firms of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Synchron's technology can help patients with severe paralysis or degenerative diseases regain the ability to communicate with friends, family, and the outside world, whether through typing, texting, or even accessing social media. The company has no revenue yet and is halfway through the early feasibility trial of the Synchron Switch.