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Blackrock Neurotech Collaborates with AE Studio to Advance Training and Calibration in the First Commercial BCI Platform, MoveAgain

Collaboration will develop improved machine learning models and algorithms to improve user experience for paralyzed patients.

Blackrock Neurotech, a leader in brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, announced a collaboration with AE Studio, a group of world-class data scientists, developers, and designers who specialize in launching products that increase human agency. AE Studio recently placed first in the Neural Latents Benchmark Challenge with their AE Decoder Solution. AE Studio will bring their passion for BCI to the MoveAgain program at Blackrock, which seeks to improve the lives of patients with paralysis, and will contribute to expanding on Blackrock’s patented MoveAgain BCI system with a focus on user-friendly interfaces for clinicians and care team members.

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“AE Studio and Blackrock share the goal of improving patient lives. To do that, we need robust, reliable, and deployable software that will scale to a large population of patients. Working with the extraordinary team at AE Studio will accelerate our efforts to improve patient lives,” said Marcus Gerhardt, Blackrock co-founder and CEO.

Since 2008, implantable BCIs have been used in research studies around the world to restore function in people with paralysis and other neurological disorders. Of the 36 people with intracortical BCIs around the globe, 32 have been implanted with Blackrock technology. These implants have been shown to restore mobility, communication, and touch, with the longest chronic implant still active after seven years.

Earlier this year, Blackrock announced its aim to release the first commercial BCI platform, MoveAgain, in 2023. Built on more than fourteen years of human research, MoveAgain will enable patients with spinal cord injuries to interact with digital devices simply by thinking. One such application is communication, wherein patients imagine themselves writing letters with a pen in hand, and their brain signals are decoded in real time and sent to digital devices.

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One challenge faced by researchers is that patients’ brain signals change over time, resulting in significant time spent by patients in recalibration and training sessions. To minimize these calibration and training requirements for neural decoding, AE Studio is developing improved machine learning models and algorithms to meet Blackrock’s objective of creating a BCI that is easy to learn, flexible, responsive, and robust. The end result aims to decrease friction for patients and caretakers — while remaining performant at the prescribed BCI task.

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According to AE Studio’s CEO Judd Rosenblatt, “Increasing human agency with technology requires a synergy of hardware and software. AE delivers the best of development, data science, and design.” He goes on to state, “Blackrock sits at the forefront of neurotechnology. This collaboration is an opportunity to restore motion to paralyzed limbs and unlock the potential of the human mind. We are excited and humbled to play our part.”

AE Studio CRO, Jevan Fox added, “We’re honored to collaborate with Blackrock to decrease friction for end-users and contribute to, ultimately, the pinnacle of human agency increasing technology — enabling patients the ability to communicate and interact with digital devices through thought alone. AE, along with Blackrock, believe what’s good for the end user is good for business.”

Blackrock received a Breakthrough Designation from the FDA in 2021, which is expected to accelerate the FDA review process of the MoveAgain platform. Blackrock aims to have the MoveAgain product commercially available to a broader patient population in 2023.

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