Chinese tech media 36kr reported today that Brain Think (星愿智能), a startup focusing on brain-machine interface (BMI) innovations, has completed an angel round of financing valued at several million yuan.
The round was led by Brinc, Linrun Group and Yuhua Holdings. The proceeds will be spent on product R&D and market expansion.
Founded in 2021, Brain Think is dedicated to employing wearable gadgets and BMI technologies to collect Electroencephalogram (EEG) and Heart rate variablity (HRV) signals for the diagnosis and screening of mental diseases.
Its products are reportedly able to quickly identify victims of mental disorders and stress, to help with diagnosis of depression, motor imagery disability and attention deficit disorder.
According to data released by MedTech, China had close to 130 million people stricken with brain disease in 2021. Among them more than 2 million were autistic children under 12 years of age. The population of victims with depression numbered over 50 million.
Another study by QYResearch, a domestic market intelligence provider, the global BMI market reached US$1.2 billion in 2019, and is forecast to triple in size by 2027. A host of startups have entered this space, lured by the prospects of a blue-ocean market.
Inspired by the PCR test kit for the rapid detection of Covid infection, Wang Zhuozheng, founder and CEO of Brain Think, believes there could be a similarly easy form of diagnostics for mental illness.
Traditionally, to get a bill of one’s own mental health, one has to fill out a questionnaire. But this method has severe limitations since the test items and answers are mostly determinate and thus interfere with precise diagnostics, Wang told 36kr.
Besides, BMI technologies available in the market now are mainly used in treatment rather than early screening of mental disorders.
Eletrode caps and signal processers of Brain Think
Driven by market demand, Brain Think has set its sights on applying BMI technologies in diagnostics, rolled out an innovation meant for such purposes and brought it to market.
Currently, its products primarily reach the target customers through large-scale psychological counseling institutions. It also provides mental health assessment services to several colleges, to help them identify students and faculty at risk and take action to prevent campus suicide.
The user of Brain Think’s devices needs to first wear a non-invasive electrode cap to have his or her brain wave signals collected.
The cap then proceeds to convert EEG signals into digital signals and feeds them to a computer.
A built-in AI system will match different signals with the corresponding mental health indicators.
It can autonomously decide whether the user shows a symptom and if so, go on to categorize him or her according to four levels: healthy, mild, moderate and serious.
According to the Hangzhou-based startup, one of the biggest highlights of its technologies is that they enormously elevate the efficiency and accuracy of physiotherapists’ work, thanks to an average precision rate of 85% to 90% during clinical trials.
Brain Think has so far launched two product lines, featuring EEG and HRV signal processing. Going forward, it plans to release more wearable gadgets that are multi-modal and cater to full assessment of all mental illness.