implant, that turns brain waves into words

A computer screen shows the question “Would you like some water?” Underneath, three dots blink, followed by words that appear, one at a time: “No I am not thirsty.”

It was brain activity that made those words materialize—the brain of a man who has not spoken for more than 15 years, ever since a stroke damaged the connection between his brain and the rest of his body, leaving him mostly paralyzed.

We’re now pushing to expand to a broader vocabulary. To make that work, we need to continue to improve the current algorithms and interfaces, but I am confident those improvements will happen in the coming months and years. Now that the proof of principle has been established, the goal is optimization. We can focus on making our system faster, more accurate, and—most important— safer and more reliable. Things should move quickly now.

Probably the biggest breakthroughs will come if we can get a better understanding of the brain systems we’re trying to decode, and how paralysis alters their activity. We’ve come to realize that the neural patterns of a paralyzed person who can’t send commands to the muscles of their vocal tract are very different from those of an epilepsy patient who can. We’re attempting an ambitious feat of BMI engineering while there is still lots to learn about the underlying neuroscience. We believe it will all come together to give our patients their voices back.

Author(s) Source
E Chang IEEE Spectrum, 29 Oct 2022
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