Neuracle, a leading brain-computer interface technology company based in Beijing, has successfully completed its Series C round of financing led by Green Pine Capital Partners.
Early backer WI Harper participated in the round along with other existing investors.
Founded in 2011, Neuracle is one of China’s earliest companies dedicated to developing brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies. The company has grown both non-invasive and invasive BCI technologies in scientific research and clinical usage. Currently, Neuracle has three main product lines:
- EEG and stimulation equipment for scientific research are applied in biomedicine, psychology, and neuroscience.
- Medical EEG equipment is applied to epilepsy, brain diagnosis and tumor monitoring, cerebrovascular diseases, and other diseases.
- The minimally invasive implant of BCI systems applied to clinical use such as the treatment of intractable epilepsy and rehabilitation of neurological diseases.
According to Huang Xiaoshan, founder and CEO of Neuracle, the company’s strategy and purpose is clear—strengthen BCI technology development, improve the information transmission rate of BCI systems, and carry out successful applications.
Application of Brain-Computer Interface
In May 2021, Nature magazine published a study on “writing” characters using BCI. Using an invasive BCI technology, the patient could type 90 characters per minute, breaking the previous typing speed record. At the World Robot Conference, a non-invasive BCI technology based on visual motor stimulation coding could record 120 characters per minute. In other words, invasive or non-invasive, faster communication speed is the common pursuit of the industry.
BCI, as a channel for connection and human-to-human, human-to-outside world communication (e.g, computers, robotic arms), similar to the internet, also has the concept of “bandwidth”. Researchers have tried various methods to increase the bandwidth of information transmission, including more electrodes, innovative signal encoding and decoding, etc., intending to fully collect EEG signals released by brain neurons for accurate output. When the amount of information output is large enough and fast, the application scenarios increase, thereby not being limited to usages like “mind typing” and “mind control robotic arm.”
Neuracle, with the aim to improve the ability of EEG signal recognition and collection, has developed a series of scientific research and medical EEG equipments that have broken the high-tech barrier of “EEG hardware”.
“Recognizing the needs and pain points of EEG equipment in the scientific research field, our team started by focusing on the scientific research market and launched a wireless EEG collection and transcranial electrical stimulation system. During our experience working with our customers, Neuracle has solved many engineering problems for them and met the needs of research institutes with customized EEG systems,” – says Huang Xiaoshan.
Scientific research products are less price-sensitive and have incredibly high-performance requirements. Neuracle has developed a series of medical equipment based on the scientific research EEG technologies for “dimension reduction”. For example, in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, EEG signals tend to be very weak, with less than five microvolts, which means the system noise must be reduced to meet the scientific requirements for analysis. By achieving a high signal-to-noise ratio, Neuracle has developed medical instruments that can expand the traditional clinical equipment for neurology and surgery that can also be used for mental illnesses such as depression screening and diagnosis.
Neuracle’s medical potentiometers, high-frequency and high-lead digital EEG machines and other medical equipment have been approved by NMPA. The company’s primary income is from brain research and medical product lines. According to Neuracle, the company is ranked first in the domestic market.
Furthermore, the company has been actively dedicated to developing the industry and has undertaken a series of key national R&D projects in cooperation with Tsinghua University, Huashan Hospital, Xuanwu Hospital and others. As a result, a strong foundation of long-term trust and cooperation has been formed.
According to Professor Hong Bo, an expert in the brain-computer interface at Tsinghua University, Neuracle’s EEG equipment have reached the level of Nihon Kohden and Natus in the United States. EEG equipment is to the BCI industry what iPhone is to the mobile phone industry—around strong hardware and operating systems, developers can improve electrode materials and iterate software algorithms.
Following the progress of non-invasive EEG equipment and hardware in the next ten years, stable, reliable and safe minimally invasive hardware for implantation will be available for clinical use.
Minimally Invasive Brain-Computer Interface Technology
To enable the application of BCI technology in clinical trials, Neuracle has developed a minimally invasive BCI implant to be applied for intractable epilepsy and neurological disease rehabilitation.
Professor Hong Bo believes minimally invasive BCI technology can be compared in two technical ways: 1) the non-invasive scalp BCI requires conductive glue to ensure contact between the electrodes and the scalp. This method is still unable to work continuously for a long time; 2) invasive BCI such as BrainGate in the US need to implant hundreds of nerve electrodes in the cerebral cortex, which is traumatic and causes immune inflammation. After a certain period, the electrodes will get covered by glial cells and the signal quality gradually degrades.
Neuracle’s minimally invasive BCI is implanted on the human body’s dura mater without invading the cerebral cortex’s neurons. It obtains a high signal-to-noise ratio through the combination of software and hardware signal enhancement technology, which effectively solves the problem of biocompatibility. The current implant size is about the size of a 1 yuan coin. The implant produces high signal strength and less implant damage.
Also, Neuracle’s internal machine implanted in the dura mater is only 1/4-1/3 of that of NeuroPace. The results from using more advanced microelectronics, signal processing and adoption of BCI decoding algorithms. The internal machine does not need batteries, the brain electrical signal output and stimulation signal input are two-way wireless, enabling a potential “small size and lifelong use.”
Currently, BCI can already play a role in diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating neurological diseases with precise pathogenic mechanisms. Neuracle’s minimally invasive BCI implants were first carried out as a series of research on refractory epilepsy. According to the collected signals, it is possible to determine the origin site of epilepsy, seizure frequency, key network nodes, and other indicators, providing theoretical and methodological support for subsequent intracranial electrical stimulation therapy.
The development of Neuracle’s minimally invasive BCI implant has been completed and submitted for inspection. Clinical trials are expected to be carried out in the near future.
In the future, Neuracle’s minimally invasive BCI implant technology can help patients with neurological frostbite and spinal cord injury to improve their self-care ability and help stroke patients recover their nervous system and motor abilities.
Brain research and technology is a fast-growing industry around the world. According to McKinsey data, from 2030-2040, the potential market size of the global brain-computer interface medical applications market is expected to reach $40 billion to $145 billion. The brain-computer interface companies that have attracted much attention worldwide include Blackrock Neurotech and Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk.