Chinese company tests ‘micro invasive’ BCI technology in pig

A BCI product, Xhand, will be presented at the China (Shanghai) International Technology Fair on April 15, 2021. Photo: VCG

A BCI product, Xhand, will be presented at the China (Shanghai) International Technology Fair on April 15, 2021. Photo: VCG

A Chinese start-up has started testing the “micro-invasive” brain-computer interface (BCI) in pigs and plans to test the technology on monkeys in the next phase of the experiment, making it one of the Chinese market leaders in the field of testing Application of new emerging technology, the Global Times learned.

BCI is an important life science sector that could collect and analyze the electronic signals from the human brain. “Micro-invasive” BCI technology is a mix of invasive BCI – where chips are implanted directly into the cerebrospinal fluid during neurosurgery – and non-invasive BCI, where a device is worn that records users’ brain activity can.

In microinvasive BCI, a chip is placed just behind the skull and over the cerebrospinal fluid, ensuring both safety and longer duration of action, Ke Youwang, sales director for Neuracle Technology Co, told the Global Times over the weekend.

“The invasive BCI chips could only work for about a year or two, and it is extremely risky to re-implant after removal. In contrast, surgery using ‘micro-invasive’ BCI technology will not cause any major damage to the human body. “The risks involved are comparable to implanting an artificial cochlea,” said Ke.

He added that the signals sent by “micro-invasive” BCIs are also clearer and stronger than those of non-invasive BCIs due to the poor electrical conductivity of skulls.

Established in Beijing in 2011, Neuracle opened a new office in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area in May to leverage the region’s high-tech industrial chain and rich talent pool to accelerate collaboration and technological development.

The company is now partnering with both medical and research institutions and universities to facilitate the experimentation and landing of the new technology that is seen as the new avenue in the global ardent race for BCI, the next generation biotechnology in industry, aerospace and Space and Medicine, with a target market worth trillions of dollars.

The US industrial and security office published a list of “emerging technologies” that are subject to export controls last year. BCI was on the list along with 13 other technologies.

China is leading the way in developing non-invasive BCI, while the US – represented by technology company Neuralink founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk – has taken the lead in invasive BCI, according to industry observers.

In April, Fudan University unveiled its first in-house developed non-invasive remote BCI chip for animals, which it claimed was half the weight of similar foreign products.