Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brain Computer Interface Licensed

The New York Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratories and Washington University in St. Louis jointly invented Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology. Washington University in St. Louis has licensed the technology to Neurolutions Inc. BCI technology employs sophisticated computer algorithms to translate brain waves into physical outputs—such as moving a cursor on a computer screen.

Neurolutions is developing and commercializing medical devices to directly harness the brain’s electrical signals for communication and control systems. This technology is very useful for people with severe motor disabilities so that they can learn to operate computers, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs.

Neurolutions’s system uses wireless technology placed on the surface of the brain to transmit electrocorticographic (ECoG) signals from the brain areas that control movement. ECoG provides cleaner signals and enables finer control, such as potentially allowing movement of five individual fingers on a prosthetic hand. The device under development also carries less risk than surgically implanting electrodes in the brain and requires less training to use.

Wadsworth Center’s principal collaborator on the project Gerwin Schalk, Ph.D. said “Collaborating with clinicians and others at Washington University has helped move BCI technology another step forward. Within the next decade, I anticipate an array of brain-controlled devices such as hand or even finger prostheses to be made possible.”

Ascension Health Ventures of St. Louis, a strategic healthcare venture fund focused on medical device technology, participated in Neurolutions financing along with BioGenerator also a St. Louis-based venture fund. Neurolutions commercial advancements and royalty revenue will be shared with the Wadsworth Center and Washington University to support continued scientific research.