People Let a Startup Put a Brain Implant in Their Skull—for 15 Minutes
Because it penetrates the tissue, the Utah array can cause inflammation and scarring around the implantation site, which leads to a decline in signal quality over time. And signal quality is important because it affects how well the BCI performs. No one actually knows how long Utah arrays can last in the brain; so far the record is held by Nathan Copeland, whose device is now in its eighth year.
Placing a Utah array also requires surgeons to perform a craniotomy, making a small hole in the skull. It’s a major procedure that can cause infection and bleeding, and recovering from one takes a month or longer. Understandably, many patients may be hesitant to undergo one, even if it means regaining a degree of communication or mobility.
Precision is trying to solve both issues with a device that has 1,024 electrodes but is ultrathin—about one-fifth the thickness of a human hair—and doesn’t pierce the brain tissue. Instead of a craniotomy, it would be placed using a minimally invasive procedure that involves making a small slit in the skin and skull, then sliding the implant onto…