Tech billionaire Elon Musk said Monday that his brain-science startup company, Neuralink, had implanted a device in a human for the first time, a possible step toward a product that he said would allow people to control almost any external device “just by thinking.”
Musk made the announcement on X. He said the patient, whom he did not identify, “received an implant” Sunday and “is recovering well.” The initial results, he added, showed “promising neuron spike detection.” He gave no other details about the procedure, the patient or the device the company implanted.
Scientists for decades have worked on similar ideas for brain-computer interfaces that, if successful, could one day assist people who are physically disabled, change how people communicate or more.
There was no immediate independent confirmation of Neuralink’s progress. One of Neuralink’s competitors, Precision Neuroscience, implanted its device in a human for the first time last year.
Musk’s announcement comes eight months after Neuralink said it had received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to conduct its first in-human clinical study. In September, Neuralink said it would begin recruiting patients for the study.
The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well.
Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2024
Neuralink, which is based in San Francisco, did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
The FDA, which regulates medical devices and would need to approve any consumer product, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s announcement.
Neuralink has said it was building a brain implant called the Link to help patients, including those with severe paralysis, use external technologies. Musk said Monday that Neuralink’s first product would be called Telepathy. He did not say whether it was a new device or a new name for the previously announced device.
Neuralink has faced accusations in recent years that it mistreated some of the monkeys it used in its experiments. The Agriculture Department said last year after an investigation that it did not find any violations of animal research rules other than a self-reported 2019 incident in which a Neuralink surgeon used an unapproved sealant to close holes drilled into a monkey’s skull, Reuters reported.
The Telepathy product would allow people to control their phones or computers — and, through those devices, almost any other device — with thought only, Musk said.
“Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs,” he wrote on X. “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.”
Enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking.
Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs.
Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 30, 2024
Musk co-founded Neuralink in 2016, adding it to a roster of other companies he leads, including Tesla and SpaceX. He bought X, formerly known as Twitter, in 2022.
Neuralink is backed by more than 30 investors, including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, according to TechCrunch. Musk said in 2022 that he plans to get one of the Neuralink implants himself.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com