What does Elon Musk's brain chip company Neuralink do?

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Neuralink, Elon Musk's company that Reuters reported on Monday is the subject of a federal investigation into its animal testing program, is trying to develop a brain chip that allows the paralyzed to walk and the blind to see.

Founded in 2016 by Musk and a group of engineers, Neuralink is developing a brain chip interface that can be implanted inside the skull, which it says could eventually help disabled patients move and communicate again and restore vision.

Neuralink's device contains a chip that processes and transmits neural signals that can be transmitted to a device such as a computer or phone.

The company hopes that a person will be able to control a mouse, keyboard or other computer functions such as text messages with their thoughts.

"@Neuralink's first product will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone faster than someone who uses their thumb," Musk said in April 2021.

Neuralink also believes its device will eventually be able to restore nerve activity within the body, helping people with spinal cord injuries move their limbs. The San Francisco and Austin-based company aims to cure neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

Neuralink has produced several examples of successfully testing aspects of its technology on animals, including a 2021 video showing a macaque playing a simple video game after being implanted with a brain chip.

Neuralink has not yet received US regulatory approval to move into human trials, unlike competitor Synchron, which has less ambitious goals for clinical success.

Neuralink missed Musk's publicly stated deadline to begin human trials and applied to the Food and Drug Administration to begin them this year. Musk said last week that he believed Neuralink could begin human clinical trials within six months.

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