Next-generation BCIs are helping people who can’t speak to communicate more easily.
Most of the arrays used in human trials of invasive BCIs – where electrodes are laid directly onto the surface of the brain – are made by one company, Blackrock Neurotech.
Blackrock Neurotech is also working on language applications for BCIs. Instead of using signals sent to speech muscles like the UCSF trial, the company has created a system based on imagined handwriting: you mentally picture writing an ‘A’, and the system converts it to written text using an algorithm developed by Stanford University. It currently works at around 90 characters per minute, and the company hopes it could eventually take it up to 200 – around the same speed as the average person writes by hand.