In a pilot study, two volunteers with paralysis browsed the Internet and composed electronic messages using a new wireless BCI system.
BrainGate researchers have succeeded in creating a wireless brain-computer interface (BCI). It allows users to not only type, but browse the Internet from the comfort of their own homes. For many individuals with paralysis, their brains’ ability to command muscles to move remains intact. BCI work by detecting these command signals using electrodes implanted in the brain. Afterwards, it relays them to a computer that uses AI for decoding. In this way, people with paralysis can imagine moving a cursor on a computer and the computer does it for them.
After years of development, the new, wireless BCI was recently tested in two study participants. A 63-year-old man and 35-year-old man, both of whom have tetraplegia. They successfully used the wireless BCI to open a Windows start up menu and use numerous apps, including Pandora, Skype and YouTube. The 65-year-old participant was able to type 13.4 correct characters per minute in NotePad using the wireless system with an onscreen keyboard.
“There remains an incredible amount to be learned about how the brain works—new understanding that will be critical to advancing BCIs in the future, and for research beyond BCIs”, says John Simeral, an Assistant Professor of Research in the School of Engineering at Brown University who is involved in the BrainGate initiative.