Published articles and papers
September 16, 2015
Prosthetic Hand ‘Tells’ the Brain What It Is Touching
CNN’s Carina Storrs reports on the DARPA prosthetic hand that ‘tells’ the brain what it is touching. One of the key researchers behind this development is Sliman Bensmaia, a Blackrock power customer. Dr. Bensmaia discovered how to use Blackrock’s Utah Electrode Array for work in the sensory cortex, thereby allowing for connectivity of brain signals to the prosthetic. This demonstration marks the first time a prosthetic hand has directly communicated with the brain. Read the full article reported by Utah’s KSL.com
September 15, 2015
New Prosthetic Arm Can Restore Lost Sense of Touch, DARPA Claims
The Washington Post featured the work of researchers at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), one of Blackrock’s partners. In collaboration with DARPA and with the use of the Utah Array, researchers have been able to send sensations of touch from a robotic arm directly to the user’s brain. A 28-year old paralyzed patient was able to determine which prosthetic finger was being touched with nearly 100-percent accuracy. Read the full Washington Post article.
August 3, 2015
Thought-Controlled Prosthesis Offers More ‘Tap Precision’ – Futurity
Blackrock customer Dr. Krishna Shenoy of Stanford University is improving the way prosthetics communicate with brain signals. When a neurodegenerative disease or traumatic event occurs the brain’s connectivity with the body is disrupted. Modern brain-controlled prosthesis have allowed for improved mobility for patients, however, the process is not nearly as precise or quick as the brain’s natural capabilities. Dr. Shenoy developed a method in which the prostheses can analyze a neuron sample and instinctively make corrective adjustments in order to almost instantaneously estimate the brain’s electrical patterns. These advances are intended to benefit people with spinal cord injuries or ALS and will allow them to more precisely tap out commands on an electronic wheelchair or to use a tablet or computer independently. Read the full article at Futurity.
July 1, 2015
How Your Brain Remembers Where You Parked The Car
NPR’s All Things Considered radio program featured Itzhak Fried of UCLA and Mike Kahana of the University of Pennsylvania, both Blackrock customers, regarding their fascinating research on how our brains link memories. Their research began with a discovery revealing the presence of special neurons that only respond to certain places or people. Since this initial discovery, researchers have found that these specialized neurons could respond to more than one place or person, but only if they were connected in some way. This connection helps to explain how the brain creates memories and re-assembles relevant information, a valuable finding that may also help to explain why and how Alzheimer’s occurs. Read the full article at NPR.
June 30, 2015
The Strength of Utah Tech
The Economic Development Corporation of Utah featured Blackrock Microsystem’s contributions to the burgeoning technology industry in Utah. Blackrock’s technology is at the ‘forefront of worldwide innovations in brain machine interfaces, implantable bionic technologies, and epilepsy diagnostics.’ Blackrock caters to approximately 500 organizations and researchers across the globe., who are discovering exciting solutions in pharmacology, healthcare, and personalized medicine. What started as an idea in a University of Utah laboratory has developed into a rapidly expanding global business. Read all about it on LinkedIn.
June 12, 2015
Pentagon Gambles on Brain Implants, Bionic Limbs and Combat Exoskeletons
Scientific American explores some of DARPA’s current projects and the ethical arguments for and against pursuing them. The Agency’s funding practices do not undergo the typical peer-review process required by civilian agencies. DARPA also refers to its grant recipients as ‘performers’ where the expectations are high, and decisions to cut funding can be swift. Another concern centers around devices made with good intentions but not always used responsibly. Do the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks? Which argument do you agree with? Please read the Scientific American article and let us know your feedback.
May 28, 2015
Brain-Reading Implant Controls Arm
Erik Sorto’s story is making headlines again, this time in the BBC. After a shooting injury at the age of 21, Erik became paralyzed from the neck down. While Erik is not the first to be able to control a prosthetic device with his mind, he is the first to have the arrays implanted in the posterior parietal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for formulating an individual’s initial intention, and researchers believe this approach will make movement more intuitive. Read the complete BBC article.
May 26, 2015
Neural Implants Let Paralyzed Man Take A Drink
For the first time in 13 years Erik Sorto was able to pick up a bottle of beer and have a drink. However ordinary this may seem, it was no small task; Erik, paralyzed from the neck down, was only able to pick up the bottle with the help of prosthetic arms controlled by Blackrock Microsystems’ neural implants. Implants have been traditionally placed in the motor cortex of the brain; however, Dr. Richard Anderson’s lab at Caltech discovered that implanting the array in the posterior parietal cortex of the brain vastly improved the results. This national story was featured in The Wall Street Journal, Extreme Tech Magazine, ABC News, and Futurity. Read these articles and watch this incredible story unfold by clicking the respective links.
May 12, 2015
A Mental Remote Control for Paralyzed People
Medical Expo reports on Blackrock Microsystem’s collaboration with Brown University that resulted in a wireless headstage, a transmitter that can communicate with implanted electrode arrays. This device could allow paralyzed individuals to perform everyday tasks such as controlling TV’s, computers, wheelchairs and, most importantly, their prosthetic devices. Blackrock is now seeking clearance from the FDA in the hopes of enabling users to one day use these devices at home. Read the full article at medicalexpo.com.
April 28, 2015
DARPA Dreams: Cortical Modems and Neural RAMplants for Restoring Active Memory
ExtremeTech Magazine touts Blackrock’s technology as “the most advanced cortex implants money can now buy…” and emphasizes the key role of the technology in many successful brain-computer interface projects. One such project, funded by DARPA, is known as RAM Replay, which stands for Restoring Active Memory. While DARPA acknowledges that this project is ambitious and far from becoming reality, they have accepted the challenge and are working towards that goal. Their initial premise is to use a cortical implant, such as the Utah Array, to stimulate the brain’s white matter as opposed to the standard practice of stimulating gray matter. To explore the basis of this project further, read the full article at extremetech.com.
April 7, 2015
Revolutionizing the Neuro-Prosthetic Field
USTAR’s latest edition of InnovationUtah highlights Blackrock Microsystem’s efforts to revolutionize the neuro-prosthetics field, and its origins as a spin-off from a University of Utah laboratory. Today, Blackrock has the largest portfolio of FDA cleared and CE marked technology in the neuroscience space. This technology is a key piece in many of the leading innovations in Brain Machine Interface and epilepsy diagnostics. President Obama took notice of this technology during the whitehouse.gov broadcasting of the 2015 State of the Union Address. Read the full article at innovationutah.com.
March 27, 2015
A. Scott Anderson: Scientific Research, Development Crucial to Utah’s Economic Future
The Deseret News interviewed A. Scott Anderson, CEO and president of Zion’s Bank, about the importance of scientific research to Utah’s economy. Mr. Anderson highlights a select group of companies spun out of University of Utah research projects, including Blackrock Microsystems. Mr. Anderson believes that scientific research is a critical piece of solving problems, creating jobs, and bolstering Utah’s economy. Basic research has provided many things we take for granted today including the Internet, pharmaceuticals, and 3D printing. As a result, Mr. Anderson believes that funding for basic research is paramount to Utah’s economic health. Read the full article at desertnews.com.
March 27, 2015
Kann das Gehirn Multitasking? (Can the Brain Multitask?)
Researchers at the Technische Universität Braunschweig and Universität Hamburg explore how multi-tasking affects the brain by investigating why our brains remember some things but not others. The researchers discovered that because the brain’s synapses fire signals so rapidly, only when the subject is focused on one thing, does it really retain the information being sent. Another aspect highlighted is the impact of stress on memory retention. Lastly, the study tackled the age-old question of whether women are better at multi-tasking than men. To discover the results of their research, our German-speaking friends and clients can watch the video clip at www.ndr.de.
March 13, 2015
Paralyzed Woman Flies F-35 Fighter Jet In a Simulator – Using Only Her Mind
Jan Scheuermann became paralyzed in 2003 as the result of a neurodegenerative disease. In 2012, she agreed to partake in a DARPA-funded project involving the use of Blackrock’s Utah Array technology. Although the project allowed Jan to control a robotic arm and to feed herself again, she decided to push the boundaries even further. Jan requested to fly an F-35 fighter jet through a simulator. Pilots who use the simulator for training use a joystick to control the plane, but Jan’s approach was a little different; she had to think about actually flying the plane. Read more about this incredible story and watch the simulation video at washingtonpost.com.
January 30, 2015
If A Single Neuron Fires in the Brain, Will Anyone See it?
Andy Gotshalk, CEO of Blackrock NeuroMed, was featured in Medical Design Technology Magazine, discussing the Company’s innovative EEG monitoring software. What differentiates the NeuroMed system is its ability to produce a clear picture of an individual neuron while simultaneously comparing it to a traditional EEG picture. Conventional EEG system images capture thousands of neurons. The real-world utility of this technology are vast. In the context of epilepsy, this visibility will allow clinicians to have a better idea of where seizures are triggered, and may provide a clearer path to successful treatment. Learn more about the cutting-edge technology NeuroMed provides to the clinical epilepsy market at mdtmag.com.
January 29, 2015
Control Your Home With A Brain Implant
Blackrock Microsystems and researchers at Brown University have developed a wireless interface to remotely control a variety of home devices. The wireless device uses a built-in radio to transmit the commands to a device thereby eliminating cumbersome wires. Thurs far, this technology has only been tested on animals, but Blackrock is seeking FDA clearance for testing on human volunteers as well. The full article can be found at GeekSnack.com.
January 15, 2015
A Brain-Computer Interface That Works Wirelessly
MIT Technology Review’s Antonio Regalado interviewed Blackrock Microsystems President, Florian Solzbacher, on the Company’s revolutionary wireless brain-machine interface technology. This technology could allow for paralyzed patients to deliver their thought commands at a rate of 48 megabits per second, comparable to the speed of a residential internet connection. Blackrock is currently seeking FDA clearance to allow testing of this device on human patients. This wireless capability will allow patients to have more freedom and to possibly use it in a home setting without compromising the quality of the data collected. Read the published article in English, Spanish or German.
January 10, 2015
For Utah Tech Start-Up, Federal Funding Proved Risky
Salt Lake Tribune reporter, Kristen Moulton, interviewed Florian Solzbacher, Blackrock’s President, about the challenges and risks that small businesses face when contracting with the U.S. government. Prior to the 2012 sequestration, Blackrock Microsystems collaborated on a project developing a bionic arm with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); however, due to political gridlock, government funding was rescinded placing Blackrock in a difficult financial situation. The Company has since recovered, but is much more cautious about pursuing these agreements today. Read the full article at sltrib.com.
December 18, 2014
Blackrock Microsystems’ Array Technology Featured in Extreme Tech
John Hewitt of Extreme Tech highlighted Blackrock Microsystems’ array technology through the story of, Jan Scheuermann, a quadriplegic who in 2012 had two electrode arrays from Blackrock Microsystems implanted in her brain. By doing so she was able to control a prosthetic arm using just her thoughts thereby allowing her the mobility to once again feed herself. Jan has been able to control three dimensions of the prosthetic arm and four dimensions of its wrist. Now, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have found a way to allow Jan further control through finger abduction, thumb opposition, and finger to thumb pinching, a degree of mobility not previously possible. See the video at extremetech.com.
October 9, 2014
Florian Solzbacher – SLCC 2014 Business Lecture Series Guest Speaker
Each semester, Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) hosts an entrepreneurship forum to facilitate interaction between students and leading members of the neuroscience industry. Dr. Florian Solzbacher, president and founder of Blackrock Microsystems, was an invited speaker at this forum where he focused on the entrepreneurial challenges he has faced during his career and how he turned them into successes. In addition to founding Blackrock Microsystems, Dr. Solzbacher is very involved with the University of Utah. He is a professor in the Engineering department, Director of the Center for Engineering Innovation, and a Co-Director of the Nano Institute. This vast experience provides him with a unique perspective, which he was able to share with the students in attendance. Listen to a recording of the lecture.
August 14, 2014
Blackrock Microsystems’ NeuroPort™ Technology Featured in Business Insider, Game Changers Series
Blackrock Microsystems’ NeuroPort™ system technology has received national coverage from Business Insider’s original series, Game Changers, for its contribution to the BrainGate Research Program.
BrainGate is focused on restoring the communication, independence, and mobility of individuals suffering from paralysis, limb loss, or other neurodegenerative conditions. Dr. Leigh Hochberg, neurologist and principal investigator, and his team are featured for their successful efforts in bridging the neural connection between the human brain and a robotic arm. As a result of their efforts, Kathy Hutchinson, a completely paralyzed woman, was able to successfully move a robotic arm using just her thoughts. Blackrock Microsystems’ Utah Array™ and NeuroPort™ system are vital components in this scientific breakthrough. To make the solution more feasible for daily use, Dr. Leigh Hochberg emphasizes the need to push the NeuroPort™ system in a wireless direction, an effort already jointly underway between Brown University and Blackrock Microsystems. The BrainGate consortium of Blackrock Microsystems, Brown University, and others are advancing neuroscience research to improve human health solutions. The end goal is to develop miniaturized and robust products that will transition into real world solutions for individuals suffering from neurological diseases.
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