Yufei.com, July 9th, at the opening ceremony of the 2021 World Artificial Intelligence Conference, the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems, Chinese Academy of Sciences won the 2021 “Excellent Artificial Intelligence Leader” award for its “Craniotomy-Free Minimally Invasive Implantable High-throughput Flexible Brain-Computer Interface”.
In April this year, Neuralink, a brain-computer interface startup under Elon Musk, released a video of a 9-year-old macaque playing a table tennis video game. For a while, brain-computer interface became a hot topic again. Will brain-computer interface become a technological outlet? Will the brain-computer interface really realize the symbiotic fusion of human thought and supercomputer?
In Shanghai, the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems and Information Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (abbreviation: Shanghai Institute of Microsystems) is making in-depth explorations in this field. Recently, the “Craniotomy-Free Minimally Invasive Implantable High-throughput Flexible Brain-Computer Interface” independently developed by the Shanghai Microsystems Institute has been unveiled. In the research and cognition of the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems, the brain-computer interface connects not only the human brain and the machine, but also health and the future.
“Craniotomy-free minimally invasive implantable high-throughput flexible brain-computer interface” can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of clinical severe brain diseases and brain function exploration. “Human-machine-object” is the core technology of ternary integration of all things perception. In the future, artificial intelligence technology will be further combined to enhance brain function through the fusion of human brain and AI.
Tao Hu, deputy director and director of the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems, said that the brain is the most important and complex organ of human beings, and it is also the most fragile organ, and it is also an organ that has advantages over other animals, so the core of brain-computer interface technology is how to Can give full play to the advantages of the human brain.
Neurological diseases such as ALS, high paraplegia, epilepsy, blindness, and aphasia are all caused by abnormal brain discharge in the final analysis. As a channel for directly understanding, protecting, repairing and regulating the brain, the brain-computer interface is the most important, One of the most urgent applications is in clinical practice. For example, autism in children, depression in young and middle-aged people, dementia in the elderly, epilepsy in all age groups, etc., brain-computer interface, as a channel for direct communication between the human brain and external devices, will play a direct role in the means of neurological diseases.
Specifically, the craniotomy-free minimally invasive implantable high-throughput flexible brain-computer interface system is divided into four parts: front-end flexible deep electrode device, mid-end transfer unit, back-end EEG signal acquisition and transmission module, and biocompatible packaging materials. At present, the system has been applied to a variety of animal models such as mice, rabbits, and monkeys, and can achieve acute postoperative signal acquisition and stable neural signal tracking for up to 8 months.
▲Craniotomy-free minimally invasive implantable high-throughput flexible brain-computer interface system components
Compared with other “brain-computer interface” technologies, what is the difference between the technologies displayed by the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference? According to Tao Hu, their original technology this time can temporarily harden the flexible electrode, so that only a small hole needs to be opened, and it is directly put into the head like acupuncture, and it will become soft when it reaches the back of the head, ” In this way, craniotomy can be avoided, and only one minimally invasive implantation can be performed, the wound is very small, and the final implantation size is smaller than the diameter of the infusion pinhole.” At present, this high-throughput flexible brain computer technology is leading in China, and the implantation trauma, long-term infusion Key technologies such as body safety have reached or even partially surpassed Neuralink, Musk’s brain-computer interface company.
▲The system has been applied to various animal models such as mice, rabbits, and monkeys
The ultimate of artificial intelligence is not artificial intelligence, but the combination of artificial intelligence and human intelligence.
As a channel for the interconnection of the brain and all things, the brain-computer interface is an enabling technology that can truly leverage the advantages of the human brain and interconnect all things. Tao Hu believes that after the Internet of Things, it is the “Internet of Brains”, which realizes “brain-connected everything” and “brain-to-brain”. The adult brain has about 80 billion neurons, and each neuron interacts with thousands of surrounding neurons, forming a huge network, which is equivalent to a super computer. Interfaces can connect human “supercomputing” with everything.
At present, the popularity of the brain-computer industry has not diminished. Public data shows that since 2018, the domestic brain-computer interface industry has continuously increased its financing. For example, Boruikang, which focuses on the research and development of brain-computer interface system-related equipment, won the lead investment of Sequoia China in March 2021. In December 2020, the brain-computer interaction company Naolu Technology received 100 million yuan in Series A financing.
Regarding the current state of competition in the industry, Lu Shuqiang said that, first of all, the brain-computer interface industry is very large. Compared with “competitors”, a more reasonable title should be “industry promoters”. “The market is so big, where can there be so much competition?” Second , Lu Shuqiang said that Brainlu Technology has started its own brain-computer interface chip research and development plan since 2018. It has developed a perspective for more than three years, and is mostly engaged in chip design, as well as the entire layout and small-scale development. Tested and reserved, but large-scale production is done through outsourcing.
Specifically in the field of high-precision chips, Lu Shuqiang said that at present, Brainlu Technology mainly cooperates with the School of Integrated Circuits of Tsinghua University to develop brain-computer chips, while low-precision chips are mainly self-developed. “In the face of different scenarios, the scenario requirements of brain-computer chips are different, so the overall situation is a systematic situation.” In the future, Lu Shuqiang said that with the expansion of the entire business scenario and overall demand, Brain Lu Technology will continue to accelerate. The layout of hardware and chips, the latter mainly refers to sensor chips and customized brain-computer computing chips.
In terms of product R&D and industry development, Wu Hanfeng said that a reality that the brain-computer interface industry has to face is that it is a typical interdisciplinary subject, and its bucket effect is very obvious – that is, the weakest link determines the quality of the final output, so The industry needs teams of different backgrounds to work together.
Earlier, Pu Muming, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and academic director of the Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligent Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, publicly stated that China’s brain-computer interface technology is now five to ten years away from Musk’s, and it will take three years to reach the current level of Musk’s company. However, the two sides are in different directions. my country’s related industries still need to spend a lot of effort to make closed-loop brain-computer interfaces. I believe they can keep pace with Musk in five years. In this regard, Wu Hanfeng said that within a period of time, Naolu will gradually make up for the gap with the European and American teams due to the advantages of starting scientific research.
“Not all problems will be solved in three to five years. For example, some underlying technologies may take longer to catch up in technical aspects, but in technical aspects such as material science, neuroscience, and chip manufacturing process, although there is no way to catch up immediately. It’s in a perfect state, but it’s no problem to catch up with the mainstream state in Europe and the United States.” Wu Hanfeng said.