Butterfly Network announces partnership to codevelop brain computer interfaces



Butterfly Network, maker of a handheld, smartphone-connected ultrasound system, announced a five-year co-development collaboration with Forest Neurotech, a tech-enabled research company building a device for stimulating and imaging the brain with ultrasound, to develop a whole-brain neural interface utilizing Butterfly’s Ultrasound-on-Chip technology. 

The Massachusetts-based company’s Ultrasound-on-Chip technology, which received FDA 510(k) clearance in 2017, leverages microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology and semiconductors for portable whole-body ultrasound imaging.  

Forest Neurotech created a minimally invasive ultrasonic brain wave implant to measure and modulate brain wave activity. 

Together, the partners will codevelop a whole-brain neural interface they say will allow for brain imaging and stimulation using Butterfly’s ultrasound technology, and will help to measure brain function.

The five-year codevelopment agreement includes a $20 million payment to Butterfly, which comprises an annual licensing fee, milestone payments and chip purchases. Some $3.5 million was received by the ultrasound company upon signing the agreement. 

The companies said in a statement that additional revenue is expected for each unit sold upon commercialization. 

“We are thrilled to embark on this journey with Butterfly Network, whose unique Ultrasound-on-Chip technology is key to enabling our novel approach to minimally invasive brain imaging and stimulation,” Will Biederman, cofounder and chief technology officer of Forest Neurotech, said in a statement.

“Our shared passion for innovation and semiconductor-enabled healthcare technologies makes Butterfly the perfect match to enable our vision of developing the world’s first implanted, whole-brain neural interface.”

THE LARGER TREND

The partnership follows Butterfly’s announcement in August of the launch of Butterfly Garden, an initiative allowing third parties, such as virtual care companies, medical device companies and AI developers, to apply to access Butterfly’s software development kit to build custom applications for commercialization. 

In March, Butterfly received FDA 510(k) clearance for its Auto B-line Counter, which leverages AI to help providers determine if a patient has abnormal lung function by measuring B-lines on an ultrasound. B-lines can be associated with different pulmonary conditions, such as congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Last year, the ultrasound maker received a $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase access to its imaging technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. 



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