Elon Musk reaffirmed today that his neurological company Neuralink is working on a chip designed to help the visually impaired, responding to a parent on Twitter who shared his son’s struggle with a rare eye condition.
“This is not much consolation, but Neuralink is working on a vision chip, which will be ready in a few years,” Musk wrote.
The father, Marcus House, shared that his son had Retinal Dystrophy, which can lead to decreased vision over time. Musk said Neuralink’s work on supplementing or supplanting eyesight is coming—after its current work on assisted motor control.
“That is the next area after enabling phone/computer telepathy for those who have lost their mind-body connection,” Musk added. “We [are] waiting for regulatory approval for our first human.”
Neuralink has not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.
Musk’s post about Neuralink’s future vision chip comes at a time when the company is moving into adding human test subjects for its brain-computer interface, the company’s focus since it was founded in 2016.
In September, Neuralink received FDA approval to begin human clinical trials of its brain chip technology. Dubbed The Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface (PRIME) Study, the trials will use Neauralink’s R1 Robot to surgically implant a chip in the region of the brain that controls movement intentions. The N1 Implant chip aims to read the test subject’s desired movement and translate it into commands for external devices like computers.
After receiving the green light from the FDA, Neuralink put out a call for volunteers to join the study. Other companies working on neurological technology include Onward, Synchron, Emotiv, Kernal, and MindMaze.
Despite Musk’s optimistic update, Neuralink has years of catching up to do with fellow brain interface company Synchron, which received its FDA approval for human clinical trials in August 2020.
Other research highlighting the rapid advances in neuroscience, in August, researchers at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes in New York implanted microchips into the brain of Keith Thomas, a person with quadriplegia due to a car accident. Using a double neural bypass and motion sensors, Thomas could move his arm for the first time since 2020.
Founded in 2016, Neuralink is just one of the companies led by Musk, including SpaceX, X, xAI, Tesla, and the Boring Company. Although Musk hired Linda Yaccarino as CEO in June, he still looms large over the direction and image of the social media platform.
Edited by Ryan Ozawa.