Brain Implant allows paralysed man to talk via thought

The purpose of technology should be to make life more accessible. For example, the invention of the Internet allowed the entire world to connect, giving everyone access to boundless knowledge. One proposed piece of tech designed purely for accessibility, and straight out of sci-fi, is the invention of a brain implant.

In recent years, many companies have been working on brain implant technology. Both Neurlink and Paradromics have been gaining traction with the former wanting to “merge” humans with artificial intelligence. However, a smaller-scale implant group has already been able to use the tech to allow a paralysed man to speak again.

Paralysed man uses brain implant to speak again

Reported by Science Alert, researchers used a brain implant on a man with a severe spinal cord injury that left him paralyses. The man, who has been paralysed since 2007, was trained with the implant to speak.

The man was tasked with imagining hand writing words in his head. Using the AI-powered BrainGate platform, these thoughts could them be translated into text. Afterwards, the program would translate text into synthesised speech.

BrainGate was used to read brain signals along the motor cortex via implanted electrodes. The mental image of writing down alphabetical letters could be read with great accuracy multiple times. BrainGate could also replicate punctuation.

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Faster than previous methods

Imagining handwriting is a new way of talking through a brain implant. Previously, subjects were tasked with mentally controlling a cursor on screen to type out words. However, this new method is reportedly much faster.

The 65-year-old man was able to write out sentences at around 18 words-per-minute. The researchers compared this statistic to the average smartphone typing speed of a similar aged man: 23-words-per-minute.

“Complicated intended motions involving changing speeds and curved trajectories, like handwriting, can be interpreted more easily and more rapidly by the artificial-intelligence algorithms we're using than can simpler intended motions like moving a cursor in a straight path at a steady speed,” the researchers said.

Additionally, the research also revealed that the brain perfectly retains the ability to replicate fine movement even a decade after the body can’t.

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