Our company has existed since April 2015, but the origins of the NeuroBytes concept go back several years. Read on for an abbreviated history of the project.
Sometime in early 2014, Zach Fredin and Andrew Salveson shared a delicious brunch with mutual friends and started talking about neuroscience. Andrew had developed a Ruby-based SketchUp plugin that allowed a user to instantiate a large number of neuron-like entities, freely connect them into complex networks, and observe a real-time simulation of information flowing between the elements. He expressed interest in building a physical version of the concept, and Zach (who was looking for an excuse to get back into electronics) jumped at the opportunity for a collaboration. They worked their way through two breadboard generations before designing and manufacturing Neuron (later NeuroBytes) v0.4.
At roughly the same time and unbeknownst to the two Minneapolitans, Joe Burdo was busy building an Arduino-based neuron simulation for his undergraduate neuroscience classroom. His platform was designed from the start for education, and focused on interacting with students in the real world--for example, his pain reflex model used air muscles to realistically emulate a human hand reacting to a hot flame. The physical models showed huge potential even in prototype form; his students were highly engaged with the subject matter and left the course with an elevated understanding of the basic concepts Joe was teaching.
Late summer 2014 found Andrew and Zach moving on from the project. The architecture firm Andrew worked for offered him an excellent opportunity in New York City which he accepted, and Zach started exploring other projects in his spare time. In the fall, Zach began documenting the Neuron project on his Hackaday Projects site, eventually open-sourcing the entire endeavor and encouraging the community to build on his and Andrew's work. A few months later, Joe stumbled across the page and got in touch with Zach, who flew out to Boston to discuss a potential collaboration which eventually resulted in the formation of NeuroTinker, LLC. Joe and Zach commenced full-time work on the project on January 1, 2016, after receiving a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation.
NeuroBytes Prototype Iterations
This section provides an overview of previous NeuroBytes prototype designs. An exhaustive technical history of the project is available here.