Stanford scientists have developed brain-sensing technology which enables monkeys to type 12 words per minute using their thoughts alone.
The researchers believe the technology could soon provide a more efficient way for people with paralysis to communicate.
Existing technology relies on tracking the movements of eyes or facial muscles, which some people with paralysis can find tiring.
The implants detect signals from a region of the brain which normally controls hand and arm movements.
In the latest experiment, the researchers trained monkeys to click on letters highlighted on a screen which spelt out Shakespearean passages.
Paul Nuyujukian, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, said: “Our results demonstrate that this interface may have great promise for use in people.
“It enables a typing rate sufficient for a meaningful conversation.”
The team has recently made improvements to the technology after earlier versions proved slow and imprecise.
Researchers have tweaked the algorithms used to translate the signals into movements on the screen.
It is believed that humans using the system would communicate at a slower rate than 12 words per minute as they would need to decide what to write.
“What we cannot quantify is the cognitive load of figuring out what words you are trying to say,” Nuyujukian said.
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