Ability is a wireless, implantable medical device known as a brain-computer interface (BCI) system. The Wyss Center team is developing the system with academic and clinical collaborators along with industrial technology partners.
The aim for Ability is to improve quality of life and provide independence for people with paralysis.
“Neuroscience is experiencing a global renaissance,” said Jonas Zimmerman, senior neuroscientist at the Geneva, Switzerland–based Wyss Center. “In recent years many talented research groups and industry leaders have developed new technologies ready to be tailored for people with severe paralysis. Now is the time to build on these achievements, overcome the final hurdles, and bring neural interface technology to those who need it most.”
BCI space continues to gain speed
Professor Nick Ramsey of the UMC Utrecht Brain Center, a Wyss Center collaborator, stressed the importance of BCIs. He said the belief is that BCIs could go “far beyond current technology.” Ramsey sees the potential to bring “new levels of independence” to people with paralysis. The space is really heating up of late, with some big names behind BCI development.
The Wyss Center’s whitepaper draws from a recent clinical case study. It successfully enabled BCI communication for a person locked in because of ALS. It reviews existing methods of recording electrical activity from the brain. Additionally, it describes the clinical need for breakthrough implant technology.
Finally, the paper shares the Wyss Center’s next steps to a clinical study. The aim is to assess not only device performance but the acceptance of implantable BCIs by patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
“With fully implantable brain-computer interfaces still in their infancy, our approach at the Wyss Center is to offer a versatile system that not only connects to multiple electrode technologies, but that records neural signals from many channels at very high frequencies and wirelessly transmits the raw data using a high-speed optical link,” said George Kouvas, Wyss Center chief technology officer. “In these early days, we believe that a versatile technology like ABILITY addresses the unmet needs of early adopters and, as a consequence, has the potential to help the BCI market grow.”