Imagine being able to think words, and they appear on the screen. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are now able to do just that in a lab. For people who are unable to speak after an injury or a stroke, this brain wave technology provides hope.
Through measuring electrical activity using metallic sensors, brain waves can be translated into words on a screen.
“They know what they want to say. They can still think about what they want to do, but they can’t express it. This is technology that would allow people like that to communicate with the world,” says Dr. Jerry Shih.
Right now a person concentrates on a flashing letter on a computer monitor. This creates an electrical charge in the volunteer’s brain, and that information is sent to the computer. The computer translates that particular signal to mean the letter that the person was thinking and projects it on the screen.
This is today’s technology, and Doctor Shih envisions much more for the future.
He says, “It’s certainly in the realm of possibility that in the next several years your brain waves can control an external device that can walk over to that pencil, pick it up and move it to write something.”
Currently other research is being done to allow people to move prosthetic limbs or a wheelchair using only brainwaves. Dr. Shih says this technology is in its early stages and may take ten years or more before it is ready for public use.
There are similar other brainwave to speech/movement projects happening around the world at the same time. See some of these videos below: