Mind reading machines

This is far too cool to not post.

Researchers have been able to translate brain signals into speech using sensors attached to the surface of the brain for the first time.

The breakthrough, which is up to 90 per cent accurate, offers a way to communicate for paralysed patients who cannot speak and could eventually lead to being able to read anyone thoughts.

Because just thinking a word – and not saying it – is thought to produce the same brain signals, Prof Greger and his team believe that soon they will be able to have translation device and voice box that repeats the word you are thinking.

What is more, the brains of people who are paralysed are often healthy and produce the same signals as those in able bodied people – it is just they are blocked by injury from reaching the muscle.

The researchers said the method needs improvement, but could lead in a few years to clinical trials on paralysed people who cannot speak due to so-called “locked-in” syndrome.

“This is proof of concept,” Prof Greger said, “We’ve proven these signals can tell you what the person is saying well above chance.

“But we need to be able to do more words with more accuracy before it is something a patient really might find useful.”

People who eventually could benefit from a wireless device that converts thoughts into computer-spoken words include those paralysed by stroke, disease and injury, Prof Greger said.

People who are now “locked in” often communicate with any movement they can make – blinking an eye or moving a hand slightly – to arduously pick letters or words from a list.

The new device would allow them freedom to speak on their own.

“Even if we can just get them 30 or 40 words that could really give them so much better quality of life,” said Prof Greger.

It would be incredible, provided he continues to amazingly survive, if this sort of technology ends up on the brain of a person like Stephen Hawking.

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