Although we lived a very challenging year, during 2020 we never stopped working while Naxon Labs’ development just kept growing enormously.
Naxon started collaborating in numerous projects and took advantage to participate in conferences, exhibitions, competitions and made one of its first big steps: Naxon released a neurofeedback system to analyze the human brain called Naxon Explorer.
So, Naxon’s footsteps all along the year 2020 are interesting to be followed.
Naxon Explorer was released in May. This Brain Computer Interface solution to explore the mind is a practical tool and neurofeedback system for professionals in the fields of Neuroscience, Psychology, Medicine, Engineering, and Information Technology. This system works with the use of an electroencephalography (EEG) monitor adapted for portable EEG, particularly the Muse headset created by Interaxon Inc.
Naxon Explorer test
Naxon Explorer allows professionals – or students - to visualize, record and analyze brain activity with wireless EEG technology. The use of it can save time with its automatic blink and artifact detection and display in real time brain wave frequencies per channel or by average. The data captured can be downloaded for further analysis with tools like MATLAB, Brainstorm or EEG Lab. The device can be connected from a PC, a MAC, or a tablet with Bluetooth.
“We want to open to the world the possibilities of researching the brain while betting on innovation on what the major current technology leaders agree is the 21st century next frontier: neurotechnology, an area that combines applied neuroscience, wearable technology, BCI, Cybernetics, biosensor development, AI and machine learning”, said Leandro Castelluccio, Naxon Labs’ CEO and Co-Founder.
Following the launch of Explorer, Naxon Labs was selected by the jury for a virtual exhibition stand - in Germany - at the “Investor Days Thüringen 2020 | The Digital Edition – Playing Chances”. The initiative, carried out in June, had over 50 applications from 5 countries, with only 30 pitch places and about 300 cooperation partners and investors registered. Uruguay XXI helped and supported Naxon in the journey to reach Thüringen. A team headed by Isabella Antonaccio guided several Uruguay based start-ups to the dynamic location in the center of Europe.
In fact, Investor Days Thüringen connects investors and stakeholders of the start-up community to generate the best deal flow. The hybrid event platform offered a wide range of the latest technologies and innovative business models, an early and later stage pitch stage as well as numerous networking opportunities where Naxon Labs was present.
The event was crucial to strengthen the presence in Germany, one of Naxon’s key markets.
“Investor Days Thüringen 2020 | The Digital Edition – Playing Chances”
But Germany was not the only country where Naxon virtually showed up. Between August and December, Naxon Labs participated in the Singapore Slingshot 2020 competition, where it was selected as one of the TOP 500 Global Startups to pitch in Agorize's Slingshot 2020 competition, one of Asia’s most exciting deep tech startup encounter. These events are huge opportunities to showcase innovative solutions to major investors and industry leaders.
Thanks to its attendance on this experience, Naxon became part of the Agorize startup community and had access to global startup challenges held by Fortune 500 companies around the world.
Astellas Rx+™ Healthcare Innovation Challenge was looking for a technological solution to improve the quality of life of sensory-disabled individuals and people with restricted access to medical care. In the HealthTech, BioTech and MedTech track, Naxon Labs proposed a solution to improve patient outcomes in hospitals’ intensive care units by enhancing patient monitoring capabilities and predicting patient deterioration for early intervention. Many could think that this is something that requires substantial equipment and technology, but only with the use of a Muse device and Naxon Explorer, the brain states of patients can be monitored in real time.
Nonetheless, in December of this challenging year for the market and investments, Naxon Labs confirmed additional funding to develop Naxon Emotions, a platform that aims to monitor, classify, and provide feedback for mental and emotional states. Using Explorer as a basis and by wearing the EEG portable device like Interaxon’s Muse, Emotion will be able to read people’s emotions and cognitive states and translate brain information into objective visual markers of these states. This instrument is going to allow psychologists and cognitive scientists to measure behavioral responses, providing real time feedback and speeding diagnosis.
After several research studies on the field, Naxon Labs will develop this product in 2021 with the help of a grant from Uruguay Agency for Innovation and Research (ANII) and private investments. Naxon Labs is participating in an ANII’s program with the help of Initium, an organization in the University of Montevideo leaded by Josefina Maisonnave. Initium promotes the development of leadership, innovation, through courses, programs, and direct services to support entrepreneurs. This organization seeks to promote the entrepreneurial culture as a way of life that people can apply at work, sports, personal activities and develop it within the family and friendship. It also promotes innovation in the University of Montevideo and other institutions through methodologies, aiming to add continuous value and make them different to survive over time.
Besides, Naxon made an enormous headway by its integration with NeurotechX and the Latam Chapter. The first one is a non-profit organization, leader in local and worldwide technological initiatives. Its mission is to facilitate the advancement of neurotechnology by providing key resources and learning opportunities, and they stand on three pillars: “Community”, “Education”, and “Professional Development”. The association of NeurotechX and Naxon Labs brought to light the interest of many people in Latin America that are now helping and supporting the conception of the Latam Chapter.
Anyway, Initium was not the only project that the University of Montevideo participated in with Naxon Labs. In late 2020, several initiatives – such as internships and thesis work - were proposed for its students, leading many of them to get involved with Naxon, which also extended the use of EEG devices.
These projects included the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to understand and map neural activity. Bulk data coming from the EEG devices is being processed and used for training under different scenarios that help to detect emotional states. At the same time, with a trained neural network, a real time data interface will show these emotions - coming from a person - recorded in the EEG data.
On a separate track, investigations are being held on how to identify different EEG data pattern that could trigger commands for applications, like manipulating devices or generating instructions. EEG devices can also provide data from an oscilloscope or detect artifact data like muscle movement in the face. Naxon is also working to find different levels of thinking and mind states that could be produced intentionally, which once detected as a pattern can be mapped as a command.
On the other hand, these initiatives led to a collaboration with a group of students from the ORT University in Montevideo, Uruguay. For this project, the students started to ideate an innovative way of processing EEG data for new applications by getting the combination of voltages that allows to distinguish ocular activity – like detecting the blink of the eyes and differentiate one from another- and distinguishing the mandibular activity – like detecting the opening of the mouth or the moves of the jaw to both sides-.
Likewise, Naxon Explorer was tested in the Faculty of Psychology of the University of the Republic of Uruguay. Federico Romano, Naxon Labs Co-Founder, actively worked with potential users of Naxon Explorer intending to test and validate the use of the platform for differnet applications.
As well, in November, Leandro Castelluccio explained in an interview what Naxon Labs did during the pandemic year, on how the current products are being used and what is the future like for the company. He also talked about neurotechnology’s global development, and Latin America’s position in the field.
In fact, some months before, the second neurotechnology webinar “Mindfulness and therapeutic interventions supported by neuro-bio technologies” was held. This meeting was set to discuss about some of the current therapeutic difficulties of the most used paradigms in psychotherapy, and on how mindfulness contributes to work on these gaps. In turn, the new technological tools of applied neuroscience that support mindfulness-based interventions were explored, as well as the new developments emerging in the area, such as the new low-cost brain-computer interfaces for the measure of cognitive states.
Webinar “Mindfulness and therapeutic interventions supported by neuro-bio technologies”