Frequently Asked Questions
Can I buy an iBrain?
iBrain is currently not for sale. The device is presently exclusively loaned to elite pharmaceutical companies, governmental institutions and academic centers for research purposes. NeuroVigil retains data and IP rights.
What makes your product stand out?
The resolution and power of the SPEARS analysis framework, combined with the portability and simplicity of the single-channel iBrain device creates a system with wide applicability to asymptomatic subjects and extending all the way to subjects with severe pathologies who are not ambulatory. The technology platform is not limited to sleep, and we have a number of studies on awake patients, including paraplegic subjects whom we are helping interact with the world. Moreover, our sleep studies are not restricted to traditional sleep disorders, and can uncover changes in brain activity caused by neuropathologies or drug intake in the general population. In other words, we are using EEG as a microscope, by creating maps of brain activity rich in biomarkers from single-channel high-resolution data recorded from the comfort and privacy of people's homes.
What was the reason behind developing it?
Our goal was to build a brain computer interface, which could:
1) monitor pathology;
2) monitor treatment response and be of service as a research tool for drug manufacturers;
3) help restore function, such as communication, in people with severe neuropathologies, such as ALS.
Rather than collect a large amount of data from a few people, we collect single-channel data from a large number of individuals. Consequently, the device is simple for the user, small, portable, and low-profile, and the analysis and algorithms are extremely fast and powerful. Moreover, all of our biomarkers are cataloged in a central database, which provides us with more controls and therefore greater statistical accuracy in any given trial, and enables us to detect signals associated with multiple pathologies in a given subject. For instance, children with autism often suffer from seizures as well.
What input did you have from specialists?
We have advisers and staff who are top experts in sleep research, medicine, neuroscience and engineering, comprising one Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient, one MacArthur Fellow, one MIT TR-35, one Jacobs-Rady Pioneer, two National Medal of Science Recipients, two Sleep Research Society Presidents, two Royal Society Fellows, four Members and a Chairman of the National Academy of Engineering, a Society for Neuroscience President, seven Members of the National Academy of Sciences and two Nobel Laureates. We consult with or employ physicians, clinicians, and technicians with decades of dedicated EEG recording interpretation experience. We participate in studies with elite universities, government institutions, and large pharmaceutical companies which provide data and test cases with normal EEG, EEG disturbed by drugs or neuropathologies, and general blind studies where the EEG structure may be the key informer.
How does it work?
The iBrain device is an EEG recorder smaller than a pack of cigarettes (and much better for you), which fits into a soft tear-away head harness. It uses three small peal-and-stick FDA approved electrodes requiring no skin abrasion, each attached to the device through 7-8 inch wires. Two electrodes are placed behind each ear (on the mastoid bone) and one in the center of the forehead. These electrodes represent a single channel of EEG as opposed to the traditional EEG with dozens or more electrodes and multiple channels. The recorded data can be streamed real-time through our wireless platform, without loss, or manually transferred through the device's mini-USB port to our analysis servers, where the SPEARS algorithm is run. The patented algorithm creates maps of brain activity which reveal low power, high frequency components, fragmentation patterns and structures from a single channel of EEG which can be indicative of biomarkers for neuropathologies and drug activity, as well as neural correlates of intent and surprise used for our waking applications, such as brain based communication.
What advantages does this product offer over visiting a specialized center?
While the technology does not replace physicians, it can provide them with valuable data which is not available in their centers. The current technology is used for Research and Development by elite universities, government institutions, and pharmaceutical companies, aiming to collect high-resolution data from subjects without putting subjects through the prolonged isolation and stress of a hospital setting. For individuals, the ability to take a device home which they can easily wear and which does not require a technician to prepare them for 1-2 hours, and still allows them to contribute very high resolution data to a study is an enormous draw. For specialists, the quality and detail of the analyses reveal fine structures that are highly informative as they contain biomarkers at higher temporal and spectral resolutions than those captured by traditional methods, which rely on more channels, are restrictive, and can be very expensive. The analyses are easily visualized in a packaged report for specialists who wish to use the enhanced analytical power of SPEARS to immediately recognize altered EEG and often the specific structural details of those alterations. These benefits combine to make possible research studies compatible with visits to specialized centers, but with easier recruitment, and with faster, higher-resolution, and more cost-efficient methods to record and assess changes in brain activity.
Does the device need any adapting or training like the traditional sleep EEGs or the biofeedback systems?
In contrast to traditional EEG systems, there is no need for any technical or special training to use the iBrain device, asleep or awake. This, in addition to its portability, makes the technology widely applicable. The same technology platform has enabled studies on individuals with ALS, autism, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, Gulf War Syndrome, and many other neuropathologies since 2009. More iBrain designs and algorithms are in the works.
Does the iBrain read thoughts?
No. The iBrain measures electrical activity from the brain (EEG) which passes through the skull and scalp (see "How does it work?" above), much like an EKG system measures the electrical activity of the heart. This brain activity can be correlated with how the brain is being used, for example when an individual is trying to move a limb. EEG can be affected by pathology or drug treatment (pharmacological EEG), by an individual's reaction the environment (event related potentials), or by the brain's internal states (sleep EEG), including changes in the brain's motor output.
What are the ethical implications of this technology?
We are measuring and mapping brain activity within the medical field to detect biomarkers of pathologies, monitor progression and treatment of diseases, and restore functionality where it has been lost or diminished. All device usage is with full consent of the person using the device, and all data are treated as confidential patient data. The ethical implications are instead ethical obligations to drive this technology forward with non-invasive medical applications in an effort to accomplish things like a robust communication solution for locked-in syndrome, the mobilization of paralyzed or otherwise immobile people, the demonstration of complex mental states previously unknown in non-human animals, and the early detection of debilitating diseases where preparation is key to treatment and manageability. As pioneers, leaders, and experts, we are always pushing this technological innovation towards the betterment of humanity, and as a business, maintaining complete control and ownership of that technology.
Can we get our hands on the technology for free to experiment with it?
No, biotechs are not pretzel stands. We would love to provide services for free, but the technology is of the highest quality and is assembled and run by talented and dedicated staff whose time is very valuable. Consequently, at this stage of our development, we are not able to perform free trials. Only exceptions have been made on humanitarian grounds to assist Stephen Hawking and on national security considerations for the US government who has benefitted from initial free samples. Academic partners do however benefit from a number of perks.
Where can I find out more The Francis Crick Memorial Conference or the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness?
Where can I find out more about the Stephen Hawking Project?
Where can I find out more about the San Diego Enterprise Petition?
I am a member of Academia, Pharma, Defense, or Government and would like to work with iBrain, how is that possible?
To submit collaboration proposals to NeuroVigil, upload a non-confidential document, including your institution, plan and allotted budget via http://www.neurovigil.com/collaborate/
I am not a member of Academia, Pharma, Defense, or Government but would like to work with iBrain, how is that possible?
Can I talk to Dr. Low?
Who was the mystery investor who backed NeuroVigil in 2011?
It is a mystery.
I am a VC, can I invest?
NeuroVigil is committed to growing organically in order to ensure that it can keep its long-term research and clinical focus. The company is not considering investment requests at this time.
I am a member of the press, can I film Stephen Hawking using the technology?
We have the highest concern for the privacy of the people we work with, and do not allow any filming. Exceptions can only be considered if the subjects themselves ask to be identified and to release data.
Can you put me in touch with Stephen Hawking?
He is also a little busy.
Elon Musk is one of your backers and advisors. Can I meet him?
Where can I read more about SPEARS and Dr. Low's thesis?
The initial work was done on finches and was published in PNAS here: http://www.pnas.org/content/105/26/9081.abstract
Dr. Low's doctoral dissertation can be found here: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/6250v3wk#page-1
Is it true that the thesis was only one page?
Yes. The basic principle which enables you to see different brain states from a single channel fits in one page. The rest is in the appendix.
Are you going to publish the results of your clinical trials?
We would like to, but we need our pharma partners to agree. We are focused on our growing patent portfolio and are sitting on a number of publications.