Neurable is a Boston headquartered brain-computer interface (BCI) startup, which was founded in 2015 by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Direct Brain Interface Laboratory (UM-DBI). The startup has developed software that interprets an individual’s brain activity in order to control a wide variety of different technological interfaces. Their mission, as is that of the UM-DBI, is to create innovative assistive technologies that allow complete autonomous control regardless of one’s physical abilities.
The application of their software and algorithms has taken many forms. They first came on the scene through a partnership with HTC in 2017, developing a demo of a fully-brain controlled virtual reality game. Since then, the company has expanded beyond the consumer VR into military and industrial training operations, as well as the growing market of wearable technology. Neurable has received over $9 million in Series A funding, most recently in 2019 in order to develop every-day consumer products like headphones and other functional devices.
Expectations and demand for BCI products have always overshadowed what is currently available. Yet, it is this speculative curiosity from consumer technology, military, industrial, and medical sectors that has driven investment, and caused this industry to be valued at over $1.3 billion. Early adoption in these fields could mean that expectations are nearing reality.
Ethical debates have and will take place over the scope of these BCI devices and use of their data. In an age of the social contract between users and developers, where products are exchanged for personal data, one could expect what Neurable and other companies track to be highly valuable information to different actors. However, Adam Molnar, a co-founder of Neurable, has stated that no user data will be sold off by the company, only collected for improvement of the user experience. This step seems necessary given the nature of the brain activity data they are collecting, and will hopefully cause other BCI companies to join them in this pledge.
This article was written by Bioethics Minor student Brennan Sandor
Brennan Sandor is a fourth year undergraduate student at Loyola Marymount University, pursuing his Bachelors in Psychology with a Minor in a Bioethics.