“It Won’t Work”: The Perception Challenge facing commercial BCIs

Florian Solzbacher, PhD

Professor and Department Chair,

Department of Electrical Engineering,

University of Utah

Friday, September 16th at 11:45 am

In-Person in SMBB 2650!

Medical brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) appear to be heading toward an inflection point: In the past decade, the number and frequency of technological breakthroughs have increased significantly. These devices have the profound potential to become practical tools that restore lost function and address a variety of neurological disorders.

And though the first generations of commercially available products appear to be imminent, the most significant challenge to commercializing the technology remains: the perception that implantable BCIs are associated with unacceptably high risks, will not see regulatory approval and aren’t economically viable.

The Perception Challenge is simply the belief—among parts of the clinical community, investors and the medical device industry—that BCIs would not be accepted by the majority of eligible users, aren’t sellable, profitable, or both.

What is fueling the disbelief in commercial BCIs? How can advocates of medical BCIs, amongst patient advocates, potential users, caretakers, physicians and business, challenge this perception? And how can the field ensure that conventional health insurers aren’t the (sole) gatekeepers of BCI technology by holding the purse strings and controlling access? This talk will explore the commercial and economic roadblocks to widespread patient adoption and suggest avenues of disrupting conventional thinking about medical BCIs.

Dr. Solzbacher is Professor and Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He also holds adjunct appointments as Professor in Materials Science and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Utah. He is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers AIMBE and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers IEEE. He is Co-Founder, President and Executive Chairman of Blackrock Microsystems/Neurotech. His research focuses on harsh environment microsystems and materials, including implantable, wireless microsystems for biomedical and healthcare applications, and on high temperature and harsh environment compatible micro sensors. He is co-founder of several companies and member of a number of company and public private partnership advisory and reviewer boards and conference steering committees in Europe and the US. He is author of over 200 journal and conference publications, 5 book chapters and 16 pending patents.

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