This startup wants to help developers read your brain
Lymbic AI wants to help kickstart a brain-computer revolution
Brain computer interfaces are still at an early stage. But today we’re spotlighting a second startup in the space, after we wrote about Cogitat last month.
In some ways, Lymbic AI is very similar, but they’re looking at a different part of the market for what they hope will one day be a thriving landscape of brain-linked apps and hardware.
Scroll down to read all about them.
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Lymbic AI wants to help kickstart a brain-computer revolution
Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) might not quite be ready to go mainstream, but there’s plenty of work going on from teams around the world to get them there.
Hoping to tie many of those efforts together is Lymbic AI, a London-based startup building what it describes as ‘the Android of brain-computer interfaces’.
What does this mean? Co-founder Nikolaus Wischmann describes the BCI field as having three dimensions: the hardware you wear to measure your brian activity, the software to interpret that activity, and then the user-facing software that sits on top of it.
Lymbic AI operates primarily in the second of those dimensions, although it’s building user-facing software too.
Making sense of the data from your brain
“How you measure the neural signals from a brain should be interpreted in a standardised way,” says fellow co-founder Nathaniel Rose. He explains that at this still early stage of the BCI market, the way devices collect and interpret this data varies widely.
So Lymbic AI is developing A.I. models to decode brain activity in a way that makes it compatible with a variety of use cases. And while it plans to make this approach open to third-parties over time, it’s starting out by developing its own end-user products.
“One of the use cases that we're targeting right now, which seems like a low-hanging fruit, is authentication,” says Rose.
“How do we look at neural signals as a new biometric that can be at parity with fingerprinting or with facial recognition? And because it's an analog signal, it is a new paradigm for us to explore this as a biometric, so that we're able to have a continuous signal to verify you over a period of time.”
To this end, Lymbic AI has developed an MVP of a product called Neuroprint, which monitors a constant neural ‘fingerprint’ to ensure it’s really you logged in over time, as a replacement for passwords. Companies that handle government and financial data are a prime target.
“It’s a private alpha at the moment and we are in conversations with three different customer vendors,” says Rose.
“We're looking to accelerate the accuracy, so it can compete with things that have been already established, like fingerprinting, facial recognition, or retina scanning. That would require 99.9 or 99.95 [percent accuracy]. So we're trying to push to the precision of that, which requires us to scale our models and our accuracy much more, with an ingestion of a larger data set.”
Other potential use cases for Lymbic AI’s tech could include stress recognition, Alzheimer’s diagnosis, emotional classification, and measuring attention. Rose says the best use cases will take time to validate in scientific experiments.
Beyond that, the aim is to open the tech up to developers via an API within the next two or three years.
Rose suggests developers might want to create, for example, tech that tracks esports players’ response times, or a wearable device for golf players.
“We're not going to cover every use case for a neural app right out of the box, but exposing the platform for developers who have the creativity and the imagination is where we want to be within the next two to three years.”
How it started
Like many startups we’ve covered at PreSeed Now, Lymbic AI had its beginnings during the Covid pandemic restrictions. Wischmann says he and Rose met while they were both students at Imperial College London, collaborating on a project remotely.
As soon as it was allowed, they met in person in a student bar and explored ideas for opportunities to commercialise BCI technology. He says their first idea was a way of monitoring the emotions of Spotify users so that they could be played songs that suited their mood.
The idea merged Wischmann’s research around brain injury and trauma, with Rose’s research into using neural signals as part of a virtual reality interface.
While the music idea never moved forward, the pair were keen to do something in the neurotech space as they saw a big opportunity. So in late 2021, their studies complete, they began work on Lymbic AI.
With brain activity being used to do things like identify early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease in the academic world, commercial application of the BCI tech is arguably behind the curve.
“There really isn't a story that's being told, outside of a few device companies. And those device companies need acceleration and adoption,” says Rose.
“They're all targeting their own vertical. They're all targeting one use case. And we want to expand the features of these headset devices, whether it's headphones, or a VR headset, or a headband for meditation, to unlock new features just by being able to leverage Lymbic AI’s models.”
Wischmann says they decided against a B2C approach because the need of a polished, well-marketed product isn’t a great fit for early-stage startups, while with B2B they can focus more on well-tuned functionality for specific markets.
The pair brought in two team members late last year to build their MVP, along with two advisers. Wischmann says they’re looking to add two more staff soon.
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