Jamie Tyler has been working with his team at Neurotrek to develop a helmet that people will want to wear regularly to improve brain function.
The idea is that the helmet would stimulate the brain by using non-invasive ultrasound technology. The company is working to commercialize Tyler’s research of using ultrasound to treat neurological diseases including depression, Parkinson’s and epilepsy.
But the potential for the helmet reaches beyond helping treat diseases to helping improve the working memory of any individual, Tyler said.
Tyler, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Neurotrek’s chief scientific officer, revealed his early work in developing the helmet during a talk last week to the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.
“I’d like to have two billion or three billion people using our product,” he told the approximately 100 people gathered for the talk. “If you’re going to go for something, you have to go big.”
If testing of a prototype for the helmet is successful, Tyler said the company could have a working model to show by the end of the year.
Neurotrek recently opened an office in Carilion Clinic’s Riverside 1 building, which is adjacent to the research institute, but houses the majority of its staff at an office in Los Gatos, Calif. Seven people currently work for the company, Tyler said.
The company is backed by the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures, Tyler said, but he didn’t disclose how much money Neurotrek has received from the firm. Neurotrek is the first spinoff company to come from a scientist at the research institute, which opened in 2010 with an expectation of stimulating local economic growth in the biomedical sector.