With the increase of people suffering from various neural disorders, the need for brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to regain sensory-motor or cognitive functions are expected to become acute in the coming decades. However, the existing BCIs can only control simple motions, e.g. grasping, and are far from realizing our vision to help paralyzed patients to walk again. This is due to the lack of a high-bandwidth wireless BCI, capable of supporting the recording from a large number of neurons with high spatial and temporal resolution, while having large spatial coverage, brain-wide.
In IoN, we target to achieve a breakthrough in the ability to transfer data from intracortical recording devices, e.g. multi-electrode arrays, by developing a transcranial telemetry system that enables the efficient transfer at high data rate from such high channel count sensors (e.g. imec’s Neuropixels with 1000 channels). Most importantly, it will also fulfil the form factor required for minimally-invasive surgery, needed to minimize the surgical risk and the complications after insertion.
Furthermore, IoN will significantly scale up brain-wide recordings, by introducing a new telemetry network that has the capacity to support 16 distributed recording nodes (enabling a total of 16,000 channels), which has never been demonstrated from any BCIs before.
To reach these challenging targets, we propose i) a novel hybrid signal propagation method to achieve a 500Mbps data rate with a 10mm^2 implant area, 20× smaller than the state-of-the-art; ii) a completely new “spike-Aloha” protocol to maximize the network capacity, supporting 166× more channels.
The technology developed in IoN will be an important transformational step to revolutionize the way neuroscientists and neurologists collect and process brain-wide neural data. By introducing this miniature, energy-efficient, and high-capacity wireless telemetry network, we want to help patients with disability to regain the quality of life.
Fields of science
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