Constantly expanding field of neurotechnology includes neuroprosthetics, neurostimulation, brain-machine interfaces, and implantable devices intended to not only augment nervous system activity, but expand its capabilities.
CB Insights experts have named a dozen neurotech startups that investors interested in technology should pay attention to.
Kernel was created by Brian Johnson, the founder of the online payment company Braintree and OS Fund.
Initially, Kernel was developing memory prostheses that could create external storage and load human memory into the hippocampus.
Now the company is working on a method of measuring and stimulating many neurons with the electrical impulses simultaneously. The technology will be used in the clinical conditions for treating diseases such as depression or Alzheimer’s disease.
Dreem (formerly Rythm) is developing a wearable sleep tracking device. The device uses EEG electrodes to monitor and analyze brain activity during sleep. It then uses the “bone conduction technology” to modulate brain activity by emitting subtle sounds at certain points, which as the company claims improve the overall quality of deep sleep.
The device is associated with an app that displays sleep indicators and personalized recommendations based on the user’s habits
Thync has developed a small wearable device that attaches to the back of the neck and uses neurostimulation to reduce stress and improve sleep.
Thync Relax Pro product uses weak electrical stimulation to activate the nerve pathways in the head and neck. According to the company, these pathways connect brain regions to control stress levels and sleep quality.
Halo Neuroscience has developed Halo Sport, the brain stimulating device. It sends weak electrical impulses to the user’s brain to increase the effectiveness of physical fitness.
Halo Sport is based on the neuropriming concept, i.e. it uses electrical stimulation to increase plasticity in the brain. According to the company, in combination with physical fitness, this leads to an increase in strength, endurance and muscle memory.
Synchron is developing Stentrode , an implantable device. It is intended for paralyzed patients and designed to restore neural connections between the brain and paralyzed limbs.
A small device can pass through the brain vessels and implant into the brain and interpret the electrical data emitted by neurons. The company is now preparing for clinical trials in the early stages.
Synchron Founder and CEO, Dr. Thomas Oxley won the 2018 Advance Life Sciences Award for his work on Stentrode.
Neurable is developing brain-computer interfaces that allow people to control software and devices using only their brain activity. The software makes use of machine learning methods to reduce the lag time between analysis of neural activity and output, potentially reducing it down to real-time.
Neurable’s current headset uses six dry electrodes and takes two minutes to calibrate, a notable improvement on its previous design which relied upon 32 wet electrodes to monitor brain activity and a calibration process of 30 minutes. While the company eventually intends to allow patients unable to communicate to have greater control over their environment, it is initially targeting the AR/VR gaming industry.
Flow Neuroscience uses brain stimulation to treat depression. The company has developed a headset that delivers transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the forehead which, according to the company, reverses neural activity imbalances in the frontal lobe observed in people with depression. The device pairs with a smartphone app that guides the user through a 6-week wellness program.
Using Neurological electrical stimulation to treat depression isn’t new, but if the FDA approves Flow’s headset for commercial sale in the US, it will become the first tDCS product for the treatment of depression without a prescription or the supervision of a doctor.
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, MindMaze uses gamification to help with neurorehabilitation. The company’s MindMotion product is designed to be used in clinical environments after a patient suffers a neurological injury, such as a stroke. The product offers task-based virtual environments with the aim of supporting patients to practice motor movements.