A Non-Invasive Brain Computer Interface

A Non-Invasive Brain Computer Interface

Imagine interacting with the digital world using only your thoughts – no surgery required.

OpenWater, a San Francisco based startup wants to do just that with the help of lasers, ultrasonic chips, and camera chips. Using red / near-IR light, focused ultrasound, and holography, the company has achieved brain imaging resolutions on the level of a neuron, and their consumer-grade product is expected to have the form factor of a ski hat. Compared to room-sized, million dollar industry standards like MRI and PET, this is a huge leap in brain imaging technology.  Moreover, unlike with current tools that only image the brain, OpenWater’s tech can write to live neurons!

Though brain imaging is the primary application for which OpenWater’s technology is being developed, once fully built, the system can be ported to different form factors to enable man-machine interfaces that are controlled with signals made by other parts of the body.

The company’s founder, Mary Lou Jepsen, is a former MIT professor with with 250 published/issued patents. She held executive positions at Google, Facebook, Oculus, and Intel, and she is the founder of four startups – including One Laptop per Child, a company that delivered a $100 laptop to mass production. She was also named in TIME magazine’s “Time 100” as one of the most influential people in the world.

“Using light and sound, we can activate or inhibit neurons and simultaneously we can image to match the resolution of an fMRI scanner,” explained Jepsen during a 2018 TedTalk. “And our chips are recording the image and decoding the information a million times per second.” Paired with the decreasing costs of chip manufacturing, the landscape is primed for OpenWater’s technology to take over the medical and consumer tech markets.

When asked about the future she envisions for OpenWater, Jepsen noted: "I want everyone to be able to buy these machines in the drug store next to the blood pressure cuff.”

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