Brain Implant Allows Paralysed Person to Type Six Words per Minute

BrainGate2

#Science

Sun, Oct 11th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

While six words per minute might not sound that impressive, a device implanted in the brain of two paralysed people allows them to move computer cursors with "unprecedented accuracy and speed." The system, called BrainGate2, is connected to the area of the brain responsible for hand movement. The user "imagines moving their hand," the electrical activity is picked up and converted into an external command.

But what about the typing, you ask? For that task, the participants used the same imagined finger movement to pick out letters in a text-entering program called Dasher. With this interface, once the user selects a letter, the program predicts which letters are likely to come next and makes them easier to select, speeding up the construction of words.

One of the participants typed 115 words in 19 minutes, or about 6 words per minute. That user had previous experience with the Dasher interface using a different control method, but it’s still a pretty impressive result. While this participant is still able to talk naturally, such a communication method could benefit people who have lost the ability to control their mouth muscles, such as people with more advanced ALS or “locked-in” patients.

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