Now You can type sentences with your brainUsing an fMRI machine, scientists have managed to type entire sentences using only the power of thought. Sure, the hardware to do it is bulky, but this type of achievement is the first step towards a world where machines share our thoughts.
Previous attempts have made it possible to type out individual letters, but not in real time and with limited fidelity. What the team from Universiteit Maastricht's Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience Department of Neurocognition have managed to do is much more impressive. It is realtime and functions with entire words and phrases. Best of all, the system requires very little setup.
In the near term, this technology could be a boon for the disabled or locked in. In the long term, however, this research will lay the groundwork for though-based communication. Eventually a technology to replace fMRI will be found, one that doesn't take up an entire room. One will be found that can be attached directly to the brain. And when that happens, the formulas and models used in this experiment will become immediately applicable.
So how does it work?The system is based on 27 individually detectable thought patterns. These are tied to letters. As you think the pattern, it gets interpreted as its corresponding letter and displayed on a computer.
After an initial learning session where the computer learns to associate brain patterns to letters, the patient can immediately start typing in real time, thanks to software developed by the team.
Now, in its current state the speed is still slower than what you can do with your fingers. But it is a critical first step, one that will shape what comes next.