Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Input Devices Biotech

ALS Patients Use a Brain Implant To Type 6 Words Per Minute 26

the_newsbeagle writes: With electrodes implanted in their neural tissue and a new brain-computer interface, two paralyzed people with ALS used their thoughts to control a computer cursor with unprecedented accuracy and speed. They showed off their skills by using a predictive text-entering program to type sentences, achieving a rate of 6 words per minute. While paralyzed people can type faster using other assistive technologies that are already on the market, like eye-gaze trackers and air-puff controllers, a brain implant could be the only option for paralyzed people who can't reliably control their eyes or mouth muscles.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

ALS Patients Use a Brain Implant To Type 6 Words Per Minute

Comments Filter:
  • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @10:38AM (#50619757) Journal

    Soon I will be able to jack into the system with a nice planted wireless nub on the top of my head and an ethernet jack in my neck. I actually eagerly await this day and will subject myself to anyone qualified to test it out on me. I'd love to be jacked right into the internet. It would be awesome.

    • Soon I will be able to jack into the system with a nice planted wireless nub on the top of my head and an ethernet jack in my neck. I actually eagerly await this day and will subject myself to anyone qualified to test it out on me. I'd love to be jacked right into the internet. It would be awesome.

      Right? All that talk of "jackin' in" for the last 30 years, and all we have managed is jackin' off.

      And while we're at it, can the internet be changed to a visualization of flying through blinking skyscrapers at night?

    • Upgrades are a real pain.
      It is one thing to get these technology to help replace natural skills that you have loss or normally need, to function in society. However volunteer cybernetics to super enhance your ability for vanity reasons, really shouldn't be allowed, because say that wireless implant has a security glitch, or becomes outdated in 5 years, then you will need to have it surgically removed and a new one added. That is a lot of Trama for vanity technology.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        If I know the potential risks and opt to take them then I'm not sure why you'd feel compelled (or entitled) to tell me that I am disallowed. I don't tell you what you can do with your body so long as it doesn't harm my body and, frankly, can afford such and any health complications that come along with it.

        • I am not stating that you legally can't but the fact you probably shouldn't.
          It would be difficult for a company to make a profit of designing luxury items, that will require major trauma for installation. So it may be hard for you to get such a system. It may go in the realm of extreme body manipulation, split tongue, horn implants... However requiring brain surgery is kida hardcore for most people.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            That's true but I still want it. I'd probably only go through with it if it were reasonably safe - it seems like they could "patch" in at the optical nerves (for example) and that we might then develop the neural pathways on our own though I am probably too "plastic" for that. Or is not plastic enough? I am not a brain surgeon.

  • used their thoughts to control a computer cursor with unprecedented accuracy and speed... while paralyzed people can type faster using other assistive technologies

    So, very much... precedented, then?

  • As well as the science world
  • Stephen Hawking seems to do better than that.

    • Not really, he must do about 2 words per minute nowadays (source [theregister.co.uk]), but I think he may perform better with a brain implant.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, A.K.A. Lou Gehrig's disease.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @11:43AM (#50620203)

    This was 20+ years ago... he communicated using a chin-driven switch hooked up to a computer. I'm guessing he could do maybe 12-15 words per minute with the predictive software available at the time. HOWEVER getting the mechanical switch set up just right so he could use it was often a time-consuming chore, since he didn't have very much range of motion (or strength, for that matter) in his jaw.

    This sort of thing would be a Godsend to people like him, where their minds continue to work but their bodies don't.

    Of course, the elephant in the room is whether it makes sense to spend so many healthcare dollars on someone with an incurable, fatal disease. People with ALS get to the point where they need round-the-clock nursing care, a ventilator to help them breathe and an NG tube to feed them. on the other hand, no one blinks an eye at the annual drug costs for, say, AIDS patients; while the costs for ALS care are largely related to salaries of their caregivers.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      My late wife had an eyegaze computer for the last few months before ALS took her.

      I can confirm what paent said about setting up. Aligning the damned thing so that it registered properly was a pain in the ass.

  • Just a matter of time before we can input data into the brain by "jacking in", as well.

    "I know Kung-Fu."

  • This must be horrifyingly maddening for them.

    • While I might be able to do 70-80 when concentrating and transcribing, I find I poke along at 30-40 while composing. 6 doesn't sound all that awful for someone so deprived of other sensations and abilities. I think you largely view these things by the alternatives when you're in these situations.

      Many would see this as the end of frustration -- not the beginning.

"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked." -- John Gall, _Systemantics_

Working...