A pair of studies, one from Stanford and another from the University of Geneva, exemplify the speed with which brain-computer interfaces are advancing; and while you won’t be using one instead of a mouse and keyboard any time soon, even in its nascent form the tech may prove transformative for the disabled.
First comes work from Stanford: an improved microelectrode array and computer system that allows paralyzed users to type using an on-screen cursor.
The “baby-aspirin-sized” array has 100 electrodes and can monitor individual neurons. It plugs into the motor cortex and users imagine moving a limb in the direction they want to move the cursor; with minimal training, some were outperforming extant systems and typing dozens of characters per minute without assistance.
“This study reports the highest speed and accuracy, by a factor of three, over what’s been shown before,” said Stanford engineering professor and co-author of the report, Krishna Shenoy, in a news release.