Here comes a fascinating device that allows people suffering with paralysis to control computers or a prosthetic arm using their thoughts alone. Researchers at SpeakYourMind Foundation, a nonprofit organisation in the US, with help from BrainGate lab at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has developed this low-cost brain-computer interface to brain-injured patients.
‘We have also developed a prototype eye-tracking tool called ‘SYMeyes’ – consisting of a webcam – that allows brain stem stroke patients to answer yes or no questions by moving their eyes,’ informed Dan Bacher, founder and executive director of the Speak YourMind Foundation, in a press release.
The eye-tracker system costs about $30. Comparable systems in the market cost about $10,000 to $15,000, Bacher said. Bacher has also developed a system that allowed people to spell words by controlling a computer cursor on a virtual keyboard – using signals from the BrainGate implant. (Read: Oxygen therapy can reverse brain damage even years after stroke!)
The virtual keyboard also suggests word completions to speed up typing. Bacher, with a team of volunteers and students, develops low-cost, personalised eye-tracking and head-tracking technologies – using basic components available at most electronics stores, a laptop and custom software. (Read: High levels of oxygen in a pressurised atmosphere can treat brain damage – Israeli researchers)
‘We are helping restore communication to people who lack the ability due to stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), brain injury or other problems,’ Bacher was quoted as saying.