Neuralink's brain implant has helped a man play chess using his mind, so maybe the tech was a good idea after all

Noland Arbaugh demonstrating Telepathy, Neuralink's brain-computer interface during a livestream
(Image credit: Neuralink)

Neuralink has given us our first glimpse of its brain chip being used by a human, and the footage has convinced us the tech might be a much better idea than it first sounded.

In a nine-minute six-second live stream shared via X (formerly Twitter), we see Noland Arbaugh – the first human to be implanted with the Neuralink chip, which happened back in January – playing a game of chess on his computer using his mind.

According to Arbaugh, using the implant is like using the Force – he just stares at a point on the screen and the cursor moves where he wants. This allows him to drag digital chess pieces around on the client, and he adds he’s enjoyed other titles like Civilization VI using the tech – which Arbaugh says he recently played for “eight hours straight.”

The footage is nothing less than a technical marvel, though Arbaugh did admit that the tech isn’t yet perfect – they “have run into some issues” along the way, and his Civ VI binge was held back by needing to wait for the implant to charge.

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Next-gen accessibility tech

Brain-computer interfaces aren’t new, but invasive options like actually having a chip implanted in one of our brains are still fairly fresh on the scene and did sound terrifying – especially a chip created by a company headed up by Elon Musk of all people. 

But seeing the clip Neuralink shared, it's immediately clear how beneficial its chip and other brain implants could be as a way to make the digital world accessible again for people with permanent paralysis like Arbaugh (who was left paralyzed below the shoulders after a diving accident). 

Obviously, there’s still a lot of development that needs to happen in the field. Neuralink is just a few months into its first six-year-long human trial, and beyond testing its continued safety, some of those kinks Arbaugh mentioned need to get worked out.

Plus, we're still not convinced that brain implants will be the next smartphones, but if things continue to progress well in Neuralink's trials we wouldn't be surprised if they become a common accessibility tool for people with mobility struggles at some point in the future.

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Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.