Sonera exits stealth with $11m for neural sensing chip technology

Company aims to make measuring brain activity as accessible and measurable as heart rate.

Neural sensing company Sonera has emerged from stealth mode with an $11 million seed funding round. The company aims to democratize neural data accessibility, making it available for a wide range of applications, including healthcare and neurotherapeutics.

Sonera has developed proprietary chip-based technology that measures magnetic fields generated by the human body to provide insights into various aspects of human life, from movement and health to thoughts and emotions. Based in Berkeley, California, the company says it aims to make brain activity as accessible and measurable as heart rate, temperature, and other physiological signals.

With a focus on consumer wearables, Sonera’s first product is the S1 chip for muscle sensing. Unlike traditional electrical sensors that require direct skin contact, the tiny S1 chip can measure high-fidelity signals non-invasively.  Potential health and longevity related applications include prosthetics control, continuous monitoring of neuromuscular conditions, diagnostics, and personalized medicine. The company claims its tech could enable personalized mental health treatments, and identification of novel biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders.

Sonera was co-founded in 2018 by Nishita Deka, CEO, and Dominic Labanowski, CTO, who met as grad students at Berkeley.

“The tools we have today for measuring neural activity are either rudimentary or inaccessible, and that’s prevented us from gathering critical information about our brains and bodies,” said Deka. “The only way to solve this is by developing high-performance sensors that are commercially viable, which is the goal of our work at Sonera. My hope is that our approach, which is to measure biomagnetic signals on a chip, will let us achieve universal access to neural data and generate insights that will impact both consumer and clinical applications.”

The seed funding round was led by Amplify Partners, with participation from Abstract Ventures and existing investors Spark Capital and Material Impact, bringing the total raised by the company to $20 million.

“Over the past decade we’ve seen an explosion of wearables flood the consumer market,” said Mike Dauber, General Partner at Amplify Partners. “Sonera is developing an entirely new sensing modality that enables numerous applications that have been out of reach until now.”

“Sonera’s groundbreaking work is an entirely new approach to sensing the brain and body,” said Nabeel Hyatt, General Partner at Spark Capital. “They had the clarity to acknowledge the past approaches were not going to work, and the inspiration to develop a novel sensor with massive potential. We are proud to support them as they unlock the edges of neuroscience.”