Neuralink, the brain-machine interface (BMI) company created by Elon Musk, released a video showing off a live trial of its brain implant in a monkey. Using the primate’s own recorded brain data, Neuralink demonstrated that the monkey was not only able to manipulate a desktop cursor, but also play a game of Pong (1972) at speed.

Back in late 2020, Neuralink showed off a wireless version of its ‘N1 Link’ implant working in pigs which streamed 1,024 channels of neural data in order to track limb movement. Now the company has revealed its research in primates, or more specifically, in a macaque named Pager.

In the video, Neuralink shows Pager’s implants at work, first recording baseline neural activity, and then acting as a wirelesss controller to interact with a computer cursor, then a game of Pong.

In a blogpost, the company says it placed a pair of N1 Link devices in the hand and arm areas of the motor cortex, a part of the brain that is involved in planning and executing movements. Like its previous research on pigs, the operation is being billed as fully reversible.

The N1 is a sealed, implanted device that processes, stimulates, and transmits neural signals. Attached to the implant are small, flexible threads containing electrodes for detecting neural signals. Charging and wirelessly transmitting data is done via a removable, outside unit.

N1 Link (left), Removable charger/transmitter (right) | Image courtesy Neuralink

Neuralink has some pretty lofty goals with its BMI technology. It not only hopes to build an implantable device that can read electrical brain signals from paralyzed users, but also eventually make that technology available to neurotypical users too alongside the ability of “writing” signals back to the brain. It holds some interesting implications for the future of gaming which have drawn the interest of Valve, Facebook, and many more.

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“Our first goal is to give people with paralysis their digital freedom back: to communicate more easily via text, to follow their curiosity on the web, to express their creativity through photography and art, and, yes, to play video games,” the company says. “After that, we intend to use the Link to help improve the lives of those with neurological disorders and disabilities in other ways. For example, for people with paralysis the Link could also potentially be used to restore physical mobility. To achieve this, we’d use the Link to read signals in the brain and use them to stimulate nerves and muscles in the body, thereby allowing the person to once again control their own limbs.”

We’re likely years away from Neaurlink’s end goal of “read and write” capability, however the company is making headway. Musk revealed last year that Neuralink had been granted a “breakthrough” designation by the US Food and Drug Administration, something which allows for medical treatments and devices.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • dk now wirelessly via bluetooth

  • gothicvillas

    I need this setup with banana smoothy while gaming. Perhaps attached to index frunk?

  • Cyborg monkeys will rule the world!

  • martin

    amazing. still i can see this leading to a dystopian future where everyone must have a chip in the head. for our safety they would say.

    • Kevin White

      My prediction: there will almost certainly not be widespread chips in most of our heads for the next 15-20 years; and there will almost certainly be some equivalent of chips in most people’s heads at some point in the fullness of time (just add years).

    • Ted Joseph

      That is what people said before debit machines. I used to argue with my girlfriend about a “cashless” society. She said that would would crumble if it happened. I have been using a debit card for a while now, and the only “crumbling” that happened was our relationship; thankfully…

      • Cl

        Yea and now they can track everything about our spending. Some would say that nothing changed with chips in your brain, but then they will be tracking everything you do and put ads right to your brain. Kind of like the argument about needing to sign into facebook for VR. Most dont care, but they are tracking everything you do in VR and some dont like that. Just more ways for control.

        • mirak

          They could have tracked everything by forcing you to register everything you bought with your name.

          It’s a matter of laws.

  • xyzs

    Anything that comes from Elon Musk’s mouth is probably a big lie to please investors.
    If it’s like the self driving cars next years (5 years ago), this is very probably rigged too.

  • Sven Viking

    Do you want the Lawnmower Man? Because this is how you get the Lawnmower Man.

    (This too.)

  • Jonathan Winters III

    Not happy that Musk’s using a primate for his brain experiments. Do they even legally allow that to happen anymore? Yeesh!

  • Very interesting and fascinating

  • Anonymous

    Impressive but nothing new for BCI tho. These research have already been done around early 2010s by numerous universities.

    A true breakthrough of BCI would require Neuralink to showcase either one of these:
    1. That somehow Neuralink could do this non-invasively (i.e. no chip in brain).
    Unlikely without significantly improvement in EEG technology or the ability to combine different sensing methods.

    2. That showhow Neuralink has found a way to invent 100% safe bio-compatible/degradable brain implant.
    This is still a huge obstacle for invasive-BCI since machines are obviously considered foreign by the body and will likely cause inflammation response.

  • Cheryl Johnson

    Get $193 per h from Google!…~a1229~ Yes this can be best since I simply got my initial payroll check of $24413 and this was just of one week…I am aslo purchased my Mclaren P1 right after this payment…~a1229~ it is really best job I have even had and you will not for~give yourself if you not check it >>>> !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Julia Norris

    Get $193 per h from Google!…~a783~ Yes this can be best since I simply got my initial payroll check of $24413 and this was just of one week…I am aslo purchased my Mclaren P1 right after this payment…~a783~ it is really best job I have even had and you will not for~give yourself if you not check it >>>> !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ardra Diva

    this reminds me of the funny scene on the “Silicon Valley” HBO series where the scientist proudly shows a monkey with a prosthetic, brain-controlled bionic arm. And then what he chooses to do with it.