Neuralink finally implants a brain chip in a human

By Sanjeev 4 Min Read

Neuralink is now making headlines as its founder and tech billionaire announced that the neurotech startup has finally placed a wireless brain chip in a human. 

Neuralink’s First Human Implant

The announcement came through X (formerly Twitter) post on January 30 in which Musk announced the patient subject to the first human trial of Neurallink is now “recovering well.” 

“Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” he added.

With this, Nuerallink joins an elite club of companies that have actually placed a microchip in a human.

This list includes the likes of Blackrock Neurotech and Synchron, which achieved this feat before Musk’s startup.

An Image Breaking Down the Components of Neuralink "Telepathy" N1 Brain Implant - Neuralink First Human Trial

Neuralink previously conducted experiments on animals like monkeys, pigs, and ships. 

These tests were not without controversy, though, with some reports claiming it resulted in the deaths of around 1,500 animals.

That said, Neuralink did come out clean in a 2023 investigation conducted by the US Department of Agriculture.

Musk has also clarified in the past that his company placed implants only on “terminal” animals to minimize risk.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared Neuralink to start a human trial in May of last year. 

After being greenlighted for it, the company started recruiting subjects for human trials in September.

The PRIME Study, as Neuralink calls it, stands for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface and is focused on giving patients with quadriplegia a way to control external devices.

It will evaluate the safety and functionality of the Nueralink N1 brain implant, the R1 robot (not to be confused with the recently announced Rabbit R1 AI companion), and the N1 User App.

An Image of the R1 Robot that surgically places the N1 Brain chip - Neuralink First Human Implant

The N1 chip consists of 1024 electrodes spread across 64 threads, each “thinner than a human hair.”

The battery-powered chip records the brain’s neural activity using the electrodes, which are then transmitted wirelessly to the N1 User app, allowing users to control a computer.

The app can also be used to provide feedback to the system.

Neuralink also claims its brain implant to be “cosmetically invisible” once placed on the part of the brain responsible for movement intention. 

It is done through a surgery carried out by the R1 robot.

Telepathy and Blindsight

The N1 implant now has a proper name. Elon Musk confirmed in another post that Neuralink’s first product will be called “Telepathy.” 

As discussed earlier, it will enable users who have lost control of their limbs to use external devices like phones and computers just using their intentional thoughts.

Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.

Elon Musk on Neuralink Telepathy

While he was at it, Musk also announced that Neuralink’s second product would be “Blindsight” and that it would help in “restoration of eyesight.”

As astonishing as Musk and Neuralink try to make it sound, there are going to be critics, especially given the company’s recent track record.

Just this week, it was reported that Neuralink was fined by the US Department of Transportation (DoT) for violating rules regarding the transportation of hazardous material. 

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