Several people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) have participated in an experiment with which they intend to collect data to improve the systems of interaction between brain and machine.
In this case, three volunteers came to carry out the study that has been published in the eLife magazine, and one of them, 64, broke the world record: 8 words per minute using a chip implanted in the brain.
The phrase in question was “The quick brown fox jumped on the lazy dog,” in English, written at a rate four times faster than the previous figure, according to Stanford neurosurgeon Jaimie Henderson of the research team. Now it is working on improvements in the user interface and intend to include auto-complete systems similar to those of mobile phones, helping to streamline the process.
It is an experimental system that sends data from implanted brain chips, with cables coming out of a device mounted on the head to reach the computer that records the signals. Because of the size of the structure, it is not possible for people to use it on a day-to-day basis, but they are already working to simplify it and be able to send it to the market for clinical use, according to IEEE Spectrum.
The operation is as follows: the implant, the size of a small aspirin, enters the part of the brain responsible for the voluntary movement, and is responsible for recording the electrical signals of the neurons that appear when the person wants to move. That signal, instead of being transformed into real movement, becomes a movement of a cursor on a computer screen, thus being able to choose the desired letters.
Among people who suffer from paralysis of this type, 30 percent said they would get a brain implant if it could become wireless, and if it allowed them to write even if it was only 2 words per minute, which shows that the interest is real.
Here you can watch the video to see it working: