Over the last two and a half years, Stanford University researchers have been developing and improving a brain-computer interface (BCI) that allows paralyzed individuals to input data into a computer using only their brainwaves (via implant). Recently, one patient with a spinal cord injury, and two patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) have been able to enter up to 39 characters per minute (translating to about 8 words per minute) using the technology.
Krishna Shenoy, PhD, one of the senior co-authors of the paper published in eLife, says “This study reports the highest speed and accuracy, by a factor of three, over what’s been shown before.” Dr. Shenoy has been working on BCI development since the early 2000s and has spent the last two years working on this project with Chethan Pandarinath, PhD, and postdoctoral scholar Paul Nuyujukian, MD, PhD. “These high-performing BCI algorithms’ use in human clinical trials demonstrates the potential for this class of technology to restore communication to people with paralysis,” according to Nuyujukian.
It is important to note that this “typing” performance was achieved without any kind of autocorrection software.