(ORDO NEWS) — A paralyzed man who cannot speak or type has been able to speak more than 1,000 words using a neuroprosthetic device that translates his brain waves into speech.
t may seem like science fiction, but the new device can actually recognize what a person wants to say quite accurately. However, its speed still leaves much to be desired.
Last year, a team of UCLA researchers showed that a brain implant called a brain-computer interface can translate 50 very common words from thought to speech if a person tries to speak them in full.
The spelling interface then used language modeling to process the data in real time, identifying possible words or misspellings.
The researchers were able to decipher more than 1,150 words – that’s 85% of the colloquial vocabulary sufficient for everyday communication.
The researchers also showed that this vocabulary can be expanded to over 9,000 words.
This number corresponds to the vocabulary that the average English speaker uses in a year.
The device decoded about 29 characters per minute with an error rate of 6 percent. It turned out about seven words per minute.
The study was conducted on a paralyzed man who is now in his 30s.
At the age of 20, he suffered a stroke, which left him with an anarthria – an inability to speak intelligibly, although his cognitive functions remained normal.
He usually communicates by using a pointer attached to his baseball cap to poke letters on the screen.
In 2019, researchers surgically implanted a high-density electrode on the surface of his brain, above his speech motor cortex.
Since then, through a port built into his skull, they have been able to monitor various electrical signals that occur when he tries to speak different words or letters.
The apotheosis of the study was the development of an algorithm that made it possible to translate the patient’s thoughts into speech.
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