Advance

ABILITY

Wyss Center team with ABILITY implant

An implantable brain-computer interface to restore movement and communication

The Wyss Center is developing a fully implantable brain-computer interface (BCI) that can directly detect brain signals, and wirelessly transmit through the scalp without the need of any percutaneous component. The neural data is received by an external wearable device then transmitted to a computer via a wired connection. The computer decodes the brain signals in real time to control assistive devices such as prosthetics or to integrate with voice or communication systems. 

The system, called ABILITY which stands for Active Brain Implant Live Information Transfer sYstem, will use multiple channels to collect high-resolution brain data that are needed to effectively restore communication, movement and independence for people with disabilities. 

Our technology development efforts are currently focused on the following applications:  

• Restoring reach and grasp in tetraplegia and stroke patients, in collaboration with Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG)

• Enabling communication with people ‘locked-in’ as a result of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), in collaboration with Utrecht University

• Restoration of walking in people following spinal cord injury, in collaboration with École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV)

• Exploring the potential for use in neuromodulation applications 

ABILITY
In numbers

128
channels of neural data
50 Mbits/s
broadband neural data sensing and transmission
2022
Preclinical trials underway with implant

The ABILITY platform

ABILITY Implant Dark icon
Implant and connected electrodes
ABILITY Wearable icon
Wearable
ABILITY Data Processor ICON
Data processor
Data Visualisation ICON
Data visualization

At the center of the ABILITY platform is an active, fully implantable medical device, designed for long-term implantation. Its design brings together state-of-the-art know-how and engineering to achieve numerous ‘firsts’ in the area of brain implantable devices. An exceptionally high channel count allows high resolution recording of brain signals while secure wireless transmission of broadband neural data (50 Mbits/s), battery-less operation and encapsulation in a protective housing with hermetic sealing and biocompatible materials will allow the implant to function in the body for years. The implant is similar in size to a cochlear implant and can be implanted with a simple subcutaneous procedure. 

The active implant is currently connected to two tiny arrays of microelectrodes that continuously record neural signals from the surface of the cortex. Hermetic feedthroughs allow the wires from the microelectrodes to enter and connect to the implant, while keeping moisture away from the sensitive internal electronics.

The device is also designed to be flexibly connected to a variety of other electrode technologies such as ECoG, our Epios electrodes, and flexible, stretchable and customizable arrays. 

ABILITY enters preclinical trial

A preclinical trial is now underway with the ABILITY brain-computer interface system. The study, which is being carried out in sheep, is a crucial step towards development of a fully implantable device to enable applications such as communication and movement for people with paralysis. The trial will assess the safety and feasibility of brain signal recording and wireless transfer of neural data to a wearable computer.

brain computer interface implant x-ray
211121818 Wc Ability 06
The ABILITY device and an X-ray view of the device when implanted.

The ABILITY wearable

ABILITY comprises implantable and wearable components. Here, the colorful image on the left shows the printed circuit board layout of the USB adapter - part of the ABILITY wearable. The image on the right is the physical board used in the wearable. Components marked yellow and blue in the layout are deep, so not visible on the board.

20220621 145553compcrop Fixed Textblur
Abilityusbadapterdiagramcompcrop
The central square - U5 - is the system coordinator. It is a field programable gate array (FPGA) that reads neural data recorded from implanted electrodes, manages the system’s power and communicates with the implant and the wearable components.

NeuroKey data processing software

The Wyss Center’s NeuroKey software is easily integrated with ABILITY. Developed as medical-grade software, the high-performance data analysis platform processes large amounts of information in real-time and enables rapid prototyping of clinical apps.

We collaborate with academic and clinical partners as well as a network of industrial technology partners.

Hopitaux Universitaires De Genve 2015 Logo

Epfl Logo

Uutrecht Logo En Cmyk 3

Universittsspital Lausanne Chuv Logo


Where I work: Neuroengineering Project Manager, Shenandoah Montamat

2204 Wc Ability 004
Shenandoah leads the ABILITY project. Here she reveals her first invention and describes the shared dream of the ABILITY team.

Team

210729549 Wc Neurokey 01

We welcome new opportunities to exchange ideas and to explore collaborations

Collaborate with us

We are searching for innovative and driven people to make a difference

Join our team

We welcome feedback on our projects

Provide feedback

Follow us