In an effort to unlock the speech capacity in patients who cannot speak because of so-called "locked-in syndrome," University of Utah researchers have successfully demonstrated that they can translate brain signals into words using electrode grids placed beneath the skull. Sort of.
The method leaves a lot of room for improvement, but it does prove out some technology that could make thought-to-speech technology more reliable for patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries or illnesses that render them unable to communicate with others. Using two grids of 16 microelectrodes placed over two regions of the brain known to generate human speech, the team was able to record brain signals for 10 useful words – yes, no, hot, cold, thirsty, hungry, goodbye, hello, more and less – and use that data to discern between any two words a patient was thinking between 76 and 90 percent of the time.
But when they tried to distinguish between all ten words at the same time, that success rate dropped to between 28 percent and 48 percent. That's better than chance – which would be one-in-ten or just 10 percent – but less than reasonably useful.
The electrodes used were non-penetrating, meaning they sit between the patient's brain and skull, but do not actually poke into the brain. That means they are closer and more sensitive to specific brain waves than externally worn EEG caps, but are less invasive than penetrating electrodes. These electrodes can pick up on weak electrical signals within the brain, meaning they are more nuanced than other brain monitoring sensors and could possibly provide the technological sensitivity needed to get reliable thought-to-speech translation working.
But first the researchers will have to refine their translation techniques to raise the success rates from one-in-four to something more like three-in-four, and ideally be able to distinguish between more than just 10 words. To get to that point, the next round of tests will involve larger, 11-by-11 arrays containing 121 electrodes each. Those larger implants should yield much more brain signal data that could in turn improve translation accuracy to the point that thought-to-speech translation could become a viable clinical solution.
To us, who are healthy and don't need to worry about communication this news is nothing special. Success rate of one in four with ten words really seems mediocre, but I guess this is the great improvement for those who eventually get to commmunicate with a blink of an eye.
If I were to rate the news stories on here on how they affected me personally, then hell, almost NONE of the stories are really that important/special.
And I'm sure the improvement from not being able to communicate at all to being able to communicate successfully at a minimum of 25% of the time, that's pretty damn significant for these people and their families.
im still waiting for the day when we can use technology induced telepathy.
The link in the article doesn't work.
As for the comments, well this is just the start, give it time. If someone had asked you if it was even possible to attach something to your head and know what word you were thinking of say 5 years ago, you would most likely think it couldn't be done.
Very cool stuff. This is like real life inception. Put this on a criminal when he's sleeping and capture all his thoughts so you can put him to jail. -AznHisoka, Moderator of www.candidablog.com/community/medifast-tips/
Tech like this will most likely improve significantly over time. This is obviously the first step towards a new form of communication & is quite exciting!
When this tech is able to get to say 85 - 95 percent accuracy & learn most of a persons thoughts, This will be quite beneficial to those with ”locked in” syndrome.
This would also unshackle regular users from typing.
Next they can have them distinguish between letters, so they can spell out any word. Or like txtng, spl out any wrd.
What's with the nay sayers? It's not exiting enough for you?
This is something that could affect all of us in the future.
Things are improved upon always, and you scoff at this?
This can be a new life for many people, even people with psychological disorders, maybe develop into controlling your PC, phione, or house by simply putting on a headband like thing or touching a screen.
This is the start of what many have been dreaming of and working on. It is the communication of any language, so to speak, to display or transmit to virtually anything in whatever way we design it to for ourselves.
Never mind learning to get your muscles' old nerve endings from an amputation to control a prosthesis , just think the commands, and refine , refine, refine.
Fly a plane by thought commands, touch a screen and think what floor the elevator takes you to, etc., etc.
This is exiting to say the least.
This actually is pretty cool. It's all coming to an interface between humans and computers. Johnny pnuemonic style. nueral interfaces between pilots and planes. True virtual reality. Very exciting stuff here.