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Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

Researchers at Boston University have demonstrated a prototype system that wirelessly transmits neural signals from an implanted electrode to a speech synthesizer with a latency of only 50 milliseconds. The electrodes were implanted into a locked-in patient 5 years ago and after 5 months the neurites had grown onto the electrode so that signal patterns could be detected. The volunteer was only able to produce three vowel sounds because only a single three-wire electrode was used, but he was able to reproduce those vowel sounds with up to 89% accuracy. Future implants would access 10 times as many neurons from multiple sites in the ventral premotor cortex  where intended speech patterns are believed to originate.

January 2010

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