This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
I’ve been typing for days – and I’m STILL only halfway through this article! My fingers are ready to fall off! But wait! What if we could type WITHOUT lifting a finger?
Francis Willett and team at Stanford University are on it!
They had a patient who was paralyzed from the neck down due to a spinal cord injury. The researchers implanted a sensor into his brain. Then they told the patient to IMAGINE he was holding a pen and writing out words, letter by letter.
The sensor recorded brain activity as the patient THOUGHT of writing, and sent the signal to the computer.
And? The computer decoded letters the patient THOUGHT about writing, and displayed them on a screen. The system could produce ninety characters per minute with almost perfect accuracy!
Scientists believe this system can accurately decode our mind as it signals our body to move. This could lead to better communication technology for people with disabilities!
Meanwhile – back to the typewriter! Hunt…peck…hunt…peck….
Reference: Willett, F.R., Avansino, D.T., Hochberg, L.R. et al. High-performance brain-to-text communication via handwriting. Nature 593, 249–254 (2021).