Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, has been working on an implantable brain-machine interface since 2016. While it has previously demonstrated its progress by showing a Macaque monkey controlling the cursor in a game of Pong, human trials have yet to begin. According to Reuters, Musk has recently reached out to rival company Synchron to discuss a potential investment.
Since none of the players responded or confirmed the report with the news organisation, it’s unclear what kind of deal Musk has offered — whether it’s a collaboration or a financial investment.
According to Reuters, a deal isn’t guaranteed, and Synchron has yet to decide whether to accept Musk’s offer.
Apparently, the executive approached Synchron CEO after complaining to Neuralink staff about the company’s slow progress.
In 2019, Neuralink announced that it would seek approval for human trials in 2020. The company began looking for a clinical trial director in January of this year to oversee the testing of its medical device on human subjects. That has yet to happen, and the FDA has not revealed how far Neuralink is in the process of obtaining approval.
Read More: Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, challenges Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, on EV pickup trucks: Take that, Elon Musk:
Meanwhile, Synchron announced in July that it had implanted its brain-computer interface for the first time in the motor cortex of a human patient in the United States. Doctors at Mount Sinai West in New York did so as part of the company’s COMMAND trial, which is examining the safety of Synchron’s implant in patients with severe paralysis. In addition, the company completed a study in Australia in which four people were found to be safe even after a year with its implant.
Like Neuralink, Synchron is also hoping to provide people with limited mobility the ability to control devices like smartphones and computers with their minds. That will give them the independence to email, text and do various digital tasks. Earlier this year, Max Hodak, the Neuralink co-founder who left the company in 2021, revealed that he took on an advisory role with Synchron. He also financially invested in the company “given [his] excitement for what they’re doing.”
It’s worth noting, though, that Musk reportedly held discussions with other Neuralink rivals in the past. Reuters says he also approached brain-machine interface developer Paradromics in 2020, but those talks were ultimately abandoned.