Blackrock Neurotech, Elon Musk’s Neuralink rival, gets support from Peter Thiel

Blackrock Neurotech, a company that works on brain transplant chips, garnered the support of business capital Peter Thiel, who in 1998, founded PayPal and Elon Musk, reports CNBC.

Palantir founder Thiel has backed Blackrock Neurotech with an investment of $ 10 million, taking an undisclosed number of shares in the company.
Blackrock Neurotech has not made any significant financial investment to date, says neurotech company chief executive Marcus Gerhardt.

The firm, founded in 2008, has been selling software and hardware to the neuroscience research community for more than 10 years and is now developing its own brain-computer interface (BCI) devices.

This means that there will be a direct competition for Tesla manager Elon Musk’s Neuralink, which he founded in 2016.
Blackrock and Neuralink are both trying to create BCIs that will help people with limited mobility and other disabilities do things they could not do so far.

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For example, Neuralink recently demonstrated how its “Link” device can make monkeys play video games with their minds. The company intends to launch human trials over the course of the year.

Blackrock Neurotech, on the other hand, said it had already installed its BCI in 28 patients across the United States, China and Europe, as well as mice and deer.
Gerhardt said: “There are human patients who use our implanted equipment and technology to accomplish things directly with their minds that were unthinkable a decade ago.”

Tetraplegic patients reportedly use their chips to move their robotic legs directly to the brain, and a patient with speech problems was able to communicate using a voice-controlled synthesizer, the company said.
While the stated success of these human tests limits Blackrock, the Neuralink chip can record as many brain cell functions as it has multiple channels (recording sites), said Andrew Jackson, Professor, Neural Interfaces, University of Newcastle.

Blackrock BCIs have only one recording site at the base of each of their solid electrodes connected to the electrodes, and the work of Neuralink’s BCIs records activity at multiple locations on each flexible electrode connected to the brain.

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In addition, Blackrock’s human experiments included cords passing through the skin, but neurotech firms currently work on wireless devices.

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